Solving the ‘Woman Problem’ in British Abortion Politics: A contextualised account

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In 2011, Parliament debated an amendment to the government's Health and Social Care Bill which would have mandated that abortion counselling be provided by independent organisations. While many attacked the amendment as anti-feminist, its principal sponsor, Nadine Dorries, claimed to be acting on behalf of women. This article argues that a historical approach may be fruitfully utilised in order to make sense of such conflicting ‘feminist’ claims. Through analysis of parliamentary debates, it demonstrates that when historical and discursive context is taken into account, the Dorries amendment can be viewed as part of a broader attack on the foundations of the 1967 Abortion Act. This historical approach also allows the contributions of pro-choice women representatives to be criticised as problematic attempts to reconcile a feminist abortion politics with the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-567
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


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