Thursday, February 5, 2015

Seagel on the "Woman Question" and Abortion Since Roe

Reva Siegel, Yale Law School, has posted Abortion and the 'Woman Question': Forty Years of Debate, which appeared in the Indiana Law Journal 89 (2014): 1365-380.  She presented it as the Addison C. Harris Lecture at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.  Here is the abstract:
For the last four decades, abortion has been the site of struggles over the woman question, just as for decades schools were the site of struggles over the race question, or today the institution of marriage is the site of struggles over the standing of gays and lesbians. This lecture commemorates Roe’s fortieth anniversary by reconstructing how the woman question became entangled in the abortion debate in the twentieth century.

The abortion debate is commonly thought to concern the question of when life begins. But the question of when life begins is not the only question that makes the abortion debate explosive. I will show how the entrance of women’s rights claims into the abortion debate fatefully changed it, and led opponents of abortion to engage the woman question in terms that have changed shape over the last several decades, from the frames of “pro-family” to the more contemporary discourse associated with claims that “abortion hurts women.” Tracing the four decade arc of this conversation allows us to see more clearly the many forms in which the “woman question” can be expressed in cases that will reach the Roberts Court in the coming decade.