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'We view that as contraceptive failure': Containing the 'multiplicity' of contraception and abortion within Scottish reproductive healthcare

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Publication details

JournalSocial Science & Medicine
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2012
DatePublished (current) - 2013
Issue numbern/a
Pages (from-to)105-112
Early online date10/12/12
Original languageEnglish


Within contemporary Scottish policy guidance, abortion is routinely configured as evidence of a resolvable problem with the healthcare provision of contraception. This article draws on 42 semi-structured interviews with Scottish health professionals conducted during 2007–2008, in order to explore how, and in what form, realities of contraception/abortion are sustained within abortion practice. In addition to providing empirical insights concerning this sociologically neglected aspect of reproductive healthcare, it demonstrates how a novel conceptual approach could be used to develop existing social scientific analyses of the provision of techniques of fertility prevention. Science and Technology Studies (STS) has highlighted the importance of studying the complex socio-material practices through which realities are enacted (or ‘performed’). Mobilising this insight, my analysis illustrates the complex socio-material work required to enact abortion as evidence of a ‘problem’ with contraception that is resolvable within the healthcare consultation. This work, I argue, renders visible the ontologically ‘multiple’ (Mol, 2002) nature of contraception/abortion, with important implications for both social science and policy approaches to these techniques of fertility prevention.

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