There is a type of gestation known as cryptic, denied or hidden pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman does not realise her condition until the very moment of delivery, or after giving birth. The reasons may be: symptoms in the pregnancy which could be confused with pre-existing pathologies, bleeding interpreted as menstruation, obesity which conceals excess body weight… When the moment of delivery arrives, there have been cases in which the woman does not recognise the contractions until the baby emerges, or that the expulsion occurs in such a scenario of shock, bleeding and blood clots that the mother does not identify the expelled innards as a foetus, and may even throw it in the rubbish. This is what happened to the woman charged in a recent trial in Argentina, who was acquitted by a court in December 2022, after two years in jail accused of the homicide of her baby.
Other similar cases of women behind bars are recorded in the book Dicen que tuve un bebé by Carrera, Saralegui and Orrego-Hoyos. It recounts legal cases which question the capacity of the justice system, written along conservative and traditionally sexist lines, to judge pregnant bodies from a diverse perspective.
This and other feminist texts call for health and legal practitioners to address cases of pregnancy denial disorder or obstetric diversity without prejudices and moral positions rooted in historical patriarchy. It also calls for society not to accuse those suffering this type of pregnancy of being bad mothers, and to respect their human rights to reproductive health and a life free of violence.