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Medical Entanglements: Rethinking Feminist Debates about Healthcare

by Caroline Hansen

Biomedical interventions have been progressing rapidly over the past decades. Medical Entanglements: Rethinking Feminist Debates about Healthcare by Kristina Gupta is a 190-page book examining the ethical challenges of emerging innovations. Kristina Gupta is an assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Wake Forest University. In Medical Entanglements, Gupta utilizes intersectional feminist, queer, and disability theory to expand approaches to medical intervention. This work is extensively researched and cites ethical and health literature. She makes the case that the value of a medical intervention should not be deemed “good or bad” based on how it fits feminism’s aims. Instead, Gupta argues that an intervention is “good or bad” based on whether it promotes fulfillment and flourishing for the individual. To defend her point, Gupta utilizes three medical interventions: gender-affirming care, sexual satisfaction pharmaceuticals, and weight loss interventions. 

The integration of philosophy, ethical theories, and hot-topic debates makes this piece a thought-provoking read. Unlike other philosophical and ethical texts that only focus on the theory behind each case, Gupta integrates real-life experience and personal context. Medical Entanglements highlights that ethical debates about healthcare are not black and white. One example of her discussion on weight loss interventions. Gupta describes the intricacies of fatphobia that might lead people to receive weight loss interventions; however, this is countered by the personal fulfillment that these interventions can provide. Gupta then poses the question that while interventions might perpetuate a possibly harmful narrative, does this outweigh the personal fulfillment that care provides an individual? This is just a surface-level explanation of the ethical dilemmas that she dives into. 

Medical Entanglements is easily digestible and allows the reader to walk away with a new perspective on incorporating feminism and other values into healthcare. Gupta’s work helps introduce basic bioethical theories to readers in an understandable way. Her use of hot-topic cases keeps the book engaging and interesting.  

Medical Entanglements was published by Rutgers University Press. The book is available to purchase on Amazon or Rutgers University Press.