Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

Abortion and women's mental and bodily health: the language of trauma in the public debate on abortion in Italy  
Claudia Mattalucci (Università di Milano Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

Based on field research conducted in Italy between 2009 and 2013, my presentation examines anti-abortion activists’ discourse about the risks that abortion involves for women. I argue that analysing the language of trauma provides a lens onto representations of gender, choice, women's health and rights.

Paper long abstract:

My presentation examines the emergence and spread of the highly contested idea that abortion causes a psychological disorder comparable to post-traumatic syndrome. Since appearing in English speaking countries in the 80s, the debate about Post Abortion Syndrome has spread through multiple national contexts, taking on various context-specific forms. Anti-abortion activists have used ideas about Post-Abortion Syndrome, and more widely about the repercussions the voluntary termination of pregnancy has on women's mental health, as a tool to contest the argument that a legal and safe abortion serves to protect women's health.

Based on field research conducted in northern Italy between 2009 and 2013, my presentation describes the spread of a discourse among Italian anti-abortion activists according to which abortion involves serious risks for women's mental health. The construction of abortion as a traumatic experience mobilizes multiple registers in which scientific arguments reflect moral positions and serve political agendas.

During the '70s, when abortion in Italy was still illegal and unsafe, feminist activists likewise described abortion as a traumatic experience that threatened women's bodies and lives. Comparing their arguments to those of contemporary anti-abortion activists, I argue that the language on trauma provides a lens onto different historically and ideologically situated ideas about gender, choice, women's health, and rights.

Panel P019
Emerging contestations of abortion rights: new hierarchies, political strategies, and discourses at the intersection of rights, health and law
  Session 1