Essentially a Mother argues that the law of pregnancy and motherhood has been overrun by sexist ideology. As Jennifer Hendricks documents, courts have shockingly held over the past half century that a pregnant woman's nine months of gestation hardly count in her claim to parent the child she bears, and that a man's brief moment of ejaculation matters more than a woman's labor. Armed with such dubious arguments, courts have stripped women of the right to an abortion, treated surrogate mothers as mere vessels with no moral rights to their offspring, and handed biological fathers—even those who became fathers through rape—automatic rights over women and their children. The law of pregnancy is now infected with a misogyny that has brought tragedy to innumerable women and even to many men who don't meet the traditional definition of a father. In this incisive and groundbreaking book, Hendricks argues that feminists must work to overthrow this skewed value system that subordinates women, devalues caregiving, and strips many of us of one of our most fundamental rights: the right to parent.