Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

In its broadest sense, the Article examines the relationship between science and the law in the context of postpartum illness. From classical antiquity to the present day, physicians and scientists have investigated the causes, correlates, and consequences of the depressions and psychoses that develop in some women following their transition to motherhood. The scientific investigation of postpartum illness has been characterized by an open-ended search for knowledge with the recgonition that scientific findings published one day are subject to revision the next. Legislators and judges also have sought to understand postpartum illness as necessary to make laws that affect and adjudicate disputes involving new mothers, although legal inquiries regarding postpartum illness have yielded factual findings that are fixed in time. When the results of scientific research and legal research are compared in the context of postpartum illness, several differences emerge, perhaps because science and law share neither a common process nor common goals. This Article resolves these differences and develops a new organizing principle for understanding illness; that is, a unified health law framework that limits distinctions between physical and mental illness.

Publication Citation

33 Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 99 (2010)