Reproductive Rights and Abortion

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The rights of women to comprehensive reproductive care including abortion remains elusive, despite its importance to women's health. Moral regimes, for instance in relation to the status of the fetus, continue to mediate the conditions under which women abort, the support they receive, and the degree of stigma they experience. Issues such as sex selection test the limits of reproductive autonomy. The political economy of reproduction matters as poverty constrains access to quality services, even where abortion is legal. Health professionals continue to act as arbiters of abortion access. New technologies such as ultrasound, manual vacuum aspiration, misoprostol, mifepristone, and the internet have brought new subjectivities, practices, and forms of activism. There is a critique of rights discourse as having been usurped by state actors and even anti-abortion proponents, hinging abortion rights on responsible reproductive citizenship. Concepts of reproductive justice and bodily autonomy provide productive frameworks for analysis and activism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Anthropology
EditorsHIllary Callan, Margaret Jolly
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781118924396
ISBN (Print)9780470657225
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • abortion
  • reproductive rights
  • gender
  • anthropology

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