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Writing the History of Abortion after the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Posted by C3W Admin on March 15 2023


University of Exeter Centre for Medical History

Writing the History of Abortion after the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Workshop: Tuesday 18th April 2023

Queen’s Building, University of Exeter


Speakers include: Mary Fissell (John Hopkins); Laurence Totelin and Rhian Williams (Cardiff); Andrea Espinoza-Carvajal (Exeter); Zubin Mistry (Edinburgh)

On 24 June 2022 the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, striking down the constitutional protections for abortion care that had been established in 1973 and confirmed almost twenty years later by the ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization constituted a historical moment in itself, and the majority opinion also claimed to be correcting ‘Roe’s faulty historical analysis’. The history of abortion was part of the arguments, and it has been rewritten by the US Supreme Court on multiple levels.

But the story of abortion in past societies is much more diverse and complex than the opinion in Dobbs allows, and this workshop will explore that variation, the range of factors which have shaped and continue to shape both its experience and its telling. Mary Fissell, J. Mario Molina Professor in the History of Medicine at John Hopkins University, will get the discussion going, talking about her draft bookLong Before Roe, an immediate riposte to the US Supreme Court’s historical analysis, and other speakers will cover key episodes and projects in the ancient, medieval and modern worlds of contested reproductive rights. There will be an opportunity for wider reflections on the intersections between history, politics, law and women’s bodies.

Further details will follow shortly. If you have any questions please contact the organisers: Kate Fisher and Rebecca Flemming.

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