chapter  6
25 Pages

Reproducing Drug Addiction

Motherhood, Respectability, and the State

Women’s reproductive decisions and practices periodically come under state and social scrutiny. The intensity and techniques of surveillance vary, but the cycles have something in common: “respectable” women become invisible, while their less respectable counterparts become hypervisible and even spectacular. Figured as unfortunate but innocent victims, white women were protected from addiction’s consequences by marriage, motherhood, racial privilege, or class membership. Given the myriad changes in early-twentieth-century women’s lives-opposition to suffrage, a moral panic about “white slavery,” pronatalist and eugenic concerns about “white race suicide,” and a campaign against infant “doping”—it is remarkable that public attention to addiction among pregnant women did not surface sooner.