Reimagining relationality for reproductive care: Understanding obstetric violence as “separation”

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Nursing Ethics has published several pleas for care ethics and/or relationality as the most promising ethical foundation for midwifery philosophy and practice. In this article, we stand by these calls, contributing to them with the identification of the structural form of violence that a care ethical relational approach to reproductive care is up against: that of “maternal separation”. Confronted with reproductive and obstetric violence globally, we show that a hegemonic racialized, instrumentalized, and individualized conception of pregnancy is responsible for a severance of relationalities that are essential to safe reproductive care: (1) the relation between the person and their child or reproductive capabilities; and (2) the relation between the pregnant person and their community of care. We pinpoint a separation of the maternal relation in at least two discursive domains, namely, the juridical-political and the ethical-existential. Consequently, we plea for a radical re-imagination of maternal relationality, envisioning what care ethical midwifery, including abortion care, could be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-1197
Number of pages12
JournalNursing Ethics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Obstetric violence
  • abortion
  • ethics of care
  • maternity care
  • midwifery
  • reproductive justice

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