Tag: Abortion

Murder and Motherhood in 1950s Ireland: The Trial of Abortionist Mamie Cadden

On the evening of April 17, 1956, thirty-three-year-old Helen O. visited nurse Mamie Cadden at 17 Hume Street, Dublin, for what she likely thought would be a routine, if illegal, abortion.1 Helen O.’s death after the attempted abortion provoked a national controversy that complicated dominant constructions of motherhood and domesticity in mid-twentieth-century Ireland. In the… Read more →

The (Historical) Body in Pain

For the last decade, I’ve been reading and writing about other women’s pain. Contractions lasting 72 hours. Feverish deliriums after a punctured uterus. A woman beaten with a tree branch. I study the history of gender and medicine, and my book manuscript examines the parallel processes of the medicalization of childbirth and the criminalization of… Read more →

Repositioning the Family and the Household in a Global History of Abortion: The Case of Early-Twentieth-Century China

In May, NC editor Cassia Roth and Diana Paton organized the Intimate Politics: Fertility Control in a Global Historical Perspective conference at the University of Edinburgh. The conference explored reproduction, gender, and race from the perspective of multiple time periods, geographic locations, actors, and methods. Scholars from Europe, the United States, South Africa, Turkey, and… Read more →

A Referendum – and A Path Toward Reproductive Justice for Ireland?

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will vote on a referendum on May 25, 2018 to potentially overturn the state’s notoriously harsh anti-abortion laws.1 This moment is being characterized as a defining one, a  watershed moment for a state that Amnesty International and the United Nations have chastised for its misogynistic, anti-feminist policies. Indeed, for… Read more →

Joan Scott, Liberalism, and Abortion Rights

Recently, the University of Edinburgh awarded Joan Scott an honorary doctorate in social science. The hooding ceremony seemed more like a Catholic wedding than an intellectual honor — replete with scepters, somber music, and long robes (the British do like their hierarchy). I attended, of course, not for the solemn ceremony, but for the lecture… Read more →

“No-Tell Motels”: Abortion in Pre-Roe South Carolina

“Charleston was the place to come before Roe v. Wade, for abortions.” Reminiscing about illegal abortion in South Carolina in the 1960s and early 1970s, this woman in her 60s, an oral history narrator, highlighted the roles of “backstreet” abortion networks in Charleston. She also told a story about a college friend who needed an… Read more →

Don’t Bring that Anti-Choice Nonsense to the #MeToo Movement, Peggy Noonan

There have been any number of smart, critical takes on the #MeToo movement and the wave of sexual harassment allegations against famous and powerful men that have rocked the country in recent weeks. Lindy West, Caitlin Flanagan, Roxane Gay and numerous others have offered some great commentary on how we might process this cultural moment… Read more →

On Poverty, Morality, and Mothering

In 1930, nineteen-year-old black (preta) Jovelina Pereira dos Santos, a live-in domestic servant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hid her pregnancy from her family and employers, gave birth in secret, and asphyxiated her newborn immediately after delivery. Santos already had a young son named Ernesto who was a little over one year of age. Santos… Read more →

Sisterhood Subpoenaed: Abortion on Trial at an 1892 Women’s Medical College

Courtroom dramas are a television staple. If the Good Wife isn’t your cup of tea, there is Law and Order, How to Get Away with Murder, Suits, or Judge Judy. These programs invite the viewer into the courtroom, to envisage themselves as the advocate, the judge, the jury, or the defendant. However, such role-play is… Read more →

My Story of 20 Weeks

20 weeks. That is the magic number according to the GOP. House Republicans last week passed a bill, which they named the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, banning abortions after 20 weeks except in cases of rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother. While not expected to pass the… Read more →