Academic Year 2017-2018

Event Title

Natural Mothers: Gender Essentialism in Abortion Law

Location

De Santis Building, Room 5026

Event Website

http://cahss.nova.edu/faculty/vicki_toscano.html

Start Date

16-11-2017 12:00 PM

End Date

16-11-2017 1:00 PM

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Description

The conception that all women are naturally designed to be mothers first and foremost has a long cultural history. Abortion is controversial, at least in part, because this practice contradicts this narrative of mothering as woman’s natural telos. Promoting stories of women who came to regret their abortions and who suffered emotional harm from it became a popular technique for anti-abortion forces in the U.S. after the controversial and groundbreaking cases, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Little did it matter that these stories were ad hoc, anecdotal and contradicted by rigorous scientific studies. This narrative, relying as it did on the entrenched view of the woman as mother, found its way into abortion jurisprudence. This belief was propelled to center stage in the Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). In this case, the Supreme Court allowed the federal government to ban a certain type of abortion procedure partly because, the majority claimed, this ban protects women from the inevitable regret many feel after procuring an abortion. This talk will demonstrate the resilience of gender essentialist conceptions regarding women’s nature and the way these conceptions have come to, once again, inform constitutional analysis. Further, this talk will discuss the necessity of resisting these gender essentialist assumptions in crafting sound law and policy. Ultimately, it is impossible to achieve true reproductive freedom or gender equality as long as these gender essentialist conceptions continue to inform law.

Comments

Associate Professor of philosophy and legal studies in the Department of History and Political Science at NSU's College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS).

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Nov 16th, 12:00 PM Nov 16th, 1:00 PM

Natural Mothers: Gender Essentialism in Abortion Law

De Santis Building, Room 5026

The conception that all women are naturally designed to be mothers first and foremost has a long cultural history. Abortion is controversial, at least in part, because this practice contradicts this narrative of mothering as woman’s natural telos. Promoting stories of women who came to regret their abortions and who suffered emotional harm from it became a popular technique for anti-abortion forces in the U.S. after the controversial and groundbreaking cases, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Little did it matter that these stories were ad hoc, anecdotal and contradicted by rigorous scientific studies. This narrative, relying as it did on the entrenched view of the woman as mother, found its way into abortion jurisprudence. This belief was propelled to center stage in the Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). In this case, the Supreme Court allowed the federal government to ban a certain type of abortion procedure partly because, the majority claimed, this ban protects women from the inevitable regret many feel after procuring an abortion. This talk will demonstrate the resilience of gender essentialist conceptions regarding women’s nature and the way these conceptions have come to, once again, inform constitutional analysis. Further, this talk will discuss the necessity of resisting these gender essentialist assumptions in crafting sound law and policy. Ultimately, it is impossible to achieve true reproductive freedom or gender equality as long as these gender essentialist conceptions continue to inform law.

https://nsuworks.nova.edu/far_fls/ay2017-2018/lectures/1