Choosing motherhood? Agency and regret within reproduction and mothering retrospective accounts

Orna Donath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Based on in-depth interviews with 23 Israeli-Jewish women who regret becoming mothers, this article seeks to broaden the body of knowledge that challenges Western contemporary discourses that tend to move within the range of two poles: "you have no choice" and "you are totally free to choose." The article suggests that the emotional stance of regret may serve as a lens through which we can view, from a different angle, the interplay between subjectivity, agency, and social order. It calls into question the 'no-choice/choice' binary by looking into other notions in the field of reproduction and motherhood, such as 'will,' 'desire,' 'orientations' and 'consent'. In addition, it is suggested that the inclusion of regretting motherhood in the human terrain of regret and the inclusion of regret in the human terrain of motherhood, meaning, in the subjective repertoire of mothers' experiences, enable us to view regret as "after the fact" agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Education
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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