Evidence based research demonstrates that breastfeeding is the vastly superior form of infant nutrition which offers lifelong benefits to both infant and nursing mother. However, public health campaigns have failed to adequately increase UK breastfeeding rates. One of the main barriers to successful and sustained breastfeeding is the insidious marketing tactics of the breast milk substitute industry. This article uses international human rights instruments to inform a rights-based approach to the protection of breastfeeding from corporate interests. This new approach to the regulation of the breastmilk substitute industry is underpinned by the state duty to protect the right to infant nutrition education and the corporate duty to respect this right. It is hoped that by framing breastfeeding education in this way – as a human right – there will be a reduction in much of the controversy and parental guilt that many existing approaches to breastfeeding promotion can unintentionally cause.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport recently upheld a regulation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) according to which female athletes with hyperandrogenism should not be able to participate in some women’s competitions unless they reduce their testosterone level by medical treatment. This sex testing policy is frequently used in sport contests, mostly enforced on “suspicious looking women” via methods such as hormonal or chromosomal testing. Based on case law and sport regulations, I show that sport institutions play a major role in reinforcing the dogma of gendered binarity. Mandating “feminity tests” presupposes that every athlete can be assigned to a female or male sex category, making intersex bodies as a nonsense. The result is the production of bodies that are normalized according to gender binary stereotypes. This legal regime is currently contested by athletes (e.g., Caster Semenya) as grounded on sexist and even racist grounds.
Breastfeeding in public has gained acceptance, but milk expression often continues to be seen as a disgusting bodily function analogous to urination or sex, which should be confined to the private sphere. Yet, milk expression is often a necessary component of successful lactation and equal citizenship. What is missing from the literature on lactation is work that focuses on milk expression and its legal implications beyond the workplace, from the regulation of breast pumps as medical devices to the question of whether public milk expression should be protected. Grounded in feminist legal theory, this paper fills the gap by arguing that milk expression should be legally protected and supported via a combination of food and drug law, public health law, work law, and insurance law. Lactating parents not only need access to affordable, high-quality pumping education and technology, but also they should have the right to express milk in every space where they have the right to be.
The use of vaginal microbiota transplantation and vaginal seeding, respectively, as a potential therapy for bacterial vaginosis and preventive measure for allergies, asthma and obesity associated with c-section delivery, has recently come to light. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not made a public pronouncement about whether or how it would regulate this new application of vaginal secretions, such a decision is likely the next frontier in the regulation of microbiome-based therapies. If the agency follows the approach it has taken with fecal microbiota transplantation it will regulate vaginal secretions as a drug, medicalizing and shifting decision-making about their use from women and their physicians to the administrative state and the pharmaceutical industry. The decision to regulate these intimate bodily secretions as drugs rather than as the practice of medicine has profound implications for access to the secretions by women for therapeutic purposes.
The combination of pronatalism and populism has created new forms of family care benefits. It also contributed to the commodification of maternity. In Hungary childcare benefits target predominantly large families, or parents who intend to have three or more children. More recently even infertility treatments were nationalized. These policies appear benevolent, but a closer look at their underlying rhetoric reveals a less rosy reality. Assisted reproduction has always raised difficult ethical and legal questions. It deeply affects personal relationships and family bonds. But it also brings up the political issue of who controls women's bodily integrity. Although the state may offer useful financial aid, but it should not intrude in the life of women and their families by putting social pressure on them through economic means. After all, people form a family or want children with their loved ones – and not with the state.