Expecting motherhood? Stratifying reproduction in twenty-first century Scottish abortion practice

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This article illustrates how Scottish health professionals involved in contemporary abortion provision construct stratified expectations about women’s reproductive decision-making. Drawing on 42 semi-structured interviews I reveal the contingent discourses through which health professionals constitute the ‘rationality’ of the female subject who requests abortion. Specifically, I illustrate how youth, age, parity and class are mobilised as criteria through which to distinguish ‘types’ of patient whose requests for abortion are deemed particularly understandable or particularly problematic. I conceptualise this process of differentiation as a form of ‘stratified reproduction’ (Colen, 1995; Ginsburg and Rapp, 1995) and argue that it is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it illustrates the operation of dominant discourses concerning abortion and motherhood in 21st-century Britain. Secondly, it extends the forms of critique which feminist scholarship has developed, to date, of the regulation of abortion provision in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-525
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Early online date9 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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