Friday, March 19, 2021

Ma on abortion in China

 Ling Ma (State University of New York, Geneseo) published the following article this past fall: "Bringing the law home: abortion, reproductive coercion, and the family in early twentieth-century China," Women's History Review (published online: 24 Oct. 2020). Here's the abstract: 

This article examines how pregnant women, family heads, and the judiciary renegotiated reproductive space when abortions, both voluntary and coerced, became crimes in early twentieth-century China. Drawing on legal case records, it shows that some pregnant women, when confronted with domestic abuse or conflicts, leveraged the law against coerced abortion to secure the intervention of the state. However, the judiciary’s unwillingness or inability to arbitrate against patriarchal interests diminished the silver lining that women discovered in the criminalization of abortion. As a result, women received less real benefit from a law that had both protective and oppressive potential, and they bore disproportionately more repercussions for offenses that occurred often as a result of collective decision-making. This article demonstrates that, while the judiciary deepened its penetration of society, stern punitive measures alone failed to eliminate ‘aberrant’ reproduction, solve reproductive conflicts, or produce a sustainable new reproductive order.

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi