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Disabled Mothers

  • By: Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson & Jen Cellio
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The term disabled mother includes any woman living with a disability who also parents children. However, “disabled mothers” cannot be understood as a stable category, but instead as a set of changing definitions and attitudes with regard to both disability and mothering. What constitutes disability varies across cultures and history and greatly depends on material and social conditions and ideological beliefs and values at a given moment in human history.

From Classical antiquity to the current postmodern era, a range of meanings has been ascribed to disability—from a sign of divine glorification or punishment, or later an outward mark of inner moral character, to a common condition of the poor and an index of social position, to biological and then medicalized definitions that led to a ...

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