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Gestating times: Women’s accounts of the temporalities of pregnancies that end in abortion in England

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Publication details

JournalSociology of Health and Illness
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Aug 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2016
DatePublished (current) - 5 Jul 2017
Issue number6
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)832-846
Early online date2/12/16
Original languageEnglish


Tensions between the ‘clock time’ of medicine and the embodied times of its subjects are central to feminist writing concerning Western obstetric practice. In this article, I expand the focus of this literature by addressing the temporal dynamics of another site of reproductive healthcare: abortion provision. Echoing obstetric accounts of birth, time in legal, healthcare and social scientific discourse on abortion is routinely conceptualised as a finite resource contained within the pregnant/foetal body, which can be measured using clocks and calendars. I argue that women's interview accounts of their experiences of ending their pregnancies offer opportunities for critical reflection on this characterisation of pregnancy as linear ‘gestational time’. First, participants in this study re-position the significance of gestational time by articulating its embodied meaning. Second, they provide alternative accounts of the temporality of pregnancy as a process which emerges through, and is disrupted by, the dynamics of socio-material relations. The article considers the broader implications of women's accounts of pregnancy times for legal, healthcare and social scientific accounts of ‘later’ abortion.

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Author. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL.

    Research areas

  • abortion, feminism, pregnancy, time, Decision Making, Women's Health, Narration, Humans, England, Pregnancy, Feminism, Time Factors, Adult, Female, Interviews as Topic, Qualitative Research, Abortion, Induced/psychology


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