P22
Health and wellbeing in post-war Europe: the contentious issue of abortion

Convenors:
Lorena Anton (University of Bucharest)
Silvia De Zordo (University of Barcelona)
Joanna Mishtal (University of Central Florida)
Location:
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.04
Start time:
20 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

After 1945, European states developed new politics concerning reproduction. This panel examines the abortion issue, and past and present debates concerning reproductive health and wellbeing. It considers multiple actors' perspectives and negotiations around abortion access and governance.

Long abstract:

After 1945, deep political transformations occurred in European debates around human reproduction, resulting in important sociocultural and economic changes in gender relations and practices. Simultaneously, major changes occurred in abortion legislations, in particular after 1955, when the Soviet Union allowed women to terminate pregnancy on request for the first time in post-war Europe. Shortly after abortion was legalized in most communist countries, and then, progressively also on the other side of the Berlin Wall, starting with the UK in 1968. Since the 1990s, two major politico-economic shifts have had a profound impact on the governance of abortion: the fall of communist regimes, and the embrace of neoliberal economic policies across the New Europe. In several post-Soviet nations abortion rights have been significantly restricted due to the political revitalization of religious institutions. The general 'remasculinization' of politics after the fall of communism and the end of the wave of feminist protests of the 60s-70s, have been threatening gender equality across Europe. Economically, the welfare state decline evidenced by the neoliberal cuts in social services and healthcare have greatly affected women's experiences related to their reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing. This panel invites contributions from anthropologists researching local developments of the abortion issue in Europe, as well as associated debates (either pro-choice or pro-life). We encourage participants to approach the topic using ethnographic analyses and to focus on negotiations of reproductive health and rights, and questions of women's wellbeing in the context of state-individual relations and politics.