Latest News

Publication on the 'Abortion Road Trip'

Reproduction geographers Olivia Engle and Cordelia Freeman have co-authored the first academic research publication on a recent wave of narratives that can be grouped as 'abortion road trip' narratives. The full paper can be read here and here is the full abstract:

The abortion road trip is a narrative device that has emerged in the last decade whereby the central plot of the story is the journey taken in search of an abortion. In this paper we analyze two young adult novels (Girls on the Verge and Unpregnant) and two films (Grandma and Never Rarely Sometimes Always) that follow adolescent girls traveling for abortions in the contemporary United States. Through the analysis of these four narratives, we argue that representations of the abortion road trip are novel for their focus on the barriers and politics of abortion access in the United States. While the representations do prioritize certain barriers over others, they mark an important shift in abortion discourse in popular culture. Instead of the ‘drama’ of the plot being the decision to have an abortion, it is increasingly other socio-politico-legal issues such as the lack of abortion clinics, the distance required to travel, legal rights for adolescents, the cost of the procedure, and the opinions of family and friends that take center stage. The focus on these structural, political barriers can help to educate audiences about the realities of abortion access in the US and move abortion discourse beyond the individual.

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Talk by ReproGeog Members

Sydney Calkin, Cordelia Freeman, and Fran Moore will all be speaking at an event titled 'Reproductive Justice: Geographies of Abortion' organised by the Reproductive Justice Research Network at the University of Cambridge. The even will take place online on Thursday 24th February 4:00-5:30.

For more information and to sign up for this free event please go here

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New paper on abortion medication by ReproGeog member Sydney Calkin

Dr Sydney Calkin from Queen Mary University of London has published a new paper titled 'Legal Geographies of Medication Abortion in the USA' in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

The paper's abstract is:

Medication abortion with pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) challenges the spatiality of abortion provision because it creates the possibility for safe, self-managed abortion outside of clinical infrastructure. This possibility has been contested by pro- and anti-abortion actors for as long as medication abortion has been in existence. In this article, I offer a legal geography account of medication abortion technology that examines how medication abortion has been regulated in the United States. Conceptually, the article uses a legal geography methodology to probe the social spatialities that abortion laws construct. Empirically, the article analyses trends in legislation to restrict medication abortion and two significant court challenges where abortion providers brought suit against medication abortion restrictions. By drawing on legislation and litigation over mifepristone, I demonstrate that restrictions on it function by anchoring mifepristone inside the clinical spaces and regulatory frameworks established for surgical abortion. In this way, mifepristone regulations circumscribe its availability in order to prevent the creation of alternative models for abortion provision that could re-arrange its geography and expand abortion access.

The full paper can be read here.

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Sydney Calkin Launches Online Abortion Support Resource

ReproGeog co-founder Dr Sydney Calkin, Queen Mary University of London, has developed a new online resource so that people across Europe can safely access abortion services when they are unable to in their own country. The web tool – Finder.abortion.eu - provides accurate, otherwise hard to find, and practical information in numerous European languages about how and where women and pregnant people can access safe and legal abortion depending on the stage of their pregnancy.

People who travel abroad for abortion often face significant logistical and financial problems, on top of language difficulties and medical terms which they may not understand. This makes the resource a vital asset for people who need clear, practical, and non-judgmental information. Visitors will be able to find out which countries they can travel to if they cannot access an abortion locally, specific clinics that are most accessible, as well as further information about groups that can provide financial assistance towards the cost of the abortion and travel. While available to any resident of Europe who needs help accessing safe abortion, the hope is that this resource proves particularly valuable to countries with near total abortion bans such as Malta and Poland, as well as countries with limited access to later abortion care. 

For more information about finder.abortion.eu please go here.

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Politics of Reproduction Conference, September 2021

The  Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics (CAPPE) will hold its 16th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference online. With the theme 'The Politics of Reproduction' it will run 15-17 September 2021.

Speakers include a range of geographers working on reproduction including Sophie Lewis, Olivia Engle, Sydney Calkin, and Cordelia Freeman.

For (free) registration and to see the conference programme please see here.

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Cuerpa Politica: A Podcast Series about Reproduction in Latin America

Cuerpa Politica is a podcast about reproductive health, politics and justice in Latin America, funded by the Institute of Latin American Studies and co-hosted by, Dr Rebecca Ogden, lecturer in Latin American studies at the University of Kent and Dr R. Sanchez-Rivera, Postdoctoral fellow in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Cuerpa Politica explores reproduction in Latin America through a series of conversations with activists, practitioners, artists, and researchers working in many different contexts.

You can hear their episode with ReproGeog member Dr Cordelia Freeman on abortion access in Latin America here.

The whole series can be listened to here.

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New Publication by Cordelia Freeman on the Representation of Abortion in 'Feminist' Television

Cordelia Freeman has a newly published article, available early view in Culture, Health & Sexuality. The paper, 'Feeling Better: Representing Abortion in 'Feminist' Television', is an analysis of four contemporary programmes that have been labelled feminist and progressive. 

The full abstract is:

Abortion is a common and safe gynaecological procedure. Yet in film and television it is disproportionately represented as risky, violent, requiring hospitalisation, and affecting young, white, wealthy women. This reinforces stigma, fear and misunderstanding surrounding the procedure. While the majority of television storylines still inaccurately portray abortion, a small minority are directly showing abortion and presenting it as a positive decision. This paper analyses four such storylines in the television shows Sex Education, Shrill, GLOW and Euphoria, as well as media discourse around these plotlines, to understand how contemporary, ‘feminist’ television shows are representing abortion. The paper argues that contemporary television is increasingly representing abortion in an empathetic way that upholds women’s choice to access the procedure, but that these portrayals can be read as post-feminist. Individual choice and empowerment are prioritised in these shows at the expense of showing the complex and unequal power structures that affect how women make reproductive choices. ‘Feminist’ television still prioritises the abortion storylines of young, white women who face no obstacles to abortion access and so the realities of abortion are still not fully represented on screen.

The paper is available here.

If you do not have institutional access please contact Cordelia Freeman at c.freeman@exeter.ac.uk

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