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Accepted Paper:

Abortion, institutional neglect and ‘tele-self-help’ feminist practices in Italy  
Eleonora Cirant (Università Milano-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

Abortion is legal in Italy, but is complicated and hindered by several factors. I explore how feminist and pro-choice activism is organized on social network and uses virtual venues to give support to people who want to terminate a pregnancy and improve their agency.

Paper long abstract:

Abortion is legal in Italy inside the health facilities, but it's complicated by several factors, including the uneven distribution of services throughout the territory and the lack of up-to-date and effective information channels. The situation is aggravated by regional autonomy in health matters. In addition, the territorial network of family planning centers has been severely downsized after years of cutbacks, and the family planning centers themselves have become a hunting ground for the anti-abortion movement. Furthermore, feminist collectives have abandoned the kind of discursive practice about sexuality based on self-consciousness, widespread in the Seventies but not any more.

In this context, militant pro-choice groups are organized to guide pregnant people who want to have an abortion and to create spaces for mutual help in which to exchange experiences without being judged and in which to give each other strength and support. Support takes place mostly in the virtual environment, which guarantees anonymity. I’ll focus on some tele-self-help practices raised through platforms (particularly whatsapp, telegram and signal), intensified during the pandemic period and subsequently consolidated. I’ll also describe the most recent experience of an association network that formulated a guide based on the obstacles most frequently encountered by people who want an abortion. While conscientious objection remains a real problem, the analysis of the cases' histories mapped bottom up allows to highlight the obstacles that are less visible and known by the public but which are just as important in determining the quality of care and, therefore, of the abortion experience.

Panel P184
Un/Doing reproduction: transnational reproductive justice in times of (post-)pandemics and anti-gender campaigns
  Session 2