Reproductive Decision Making in Comparative Context

Workshop of Collaborative Research Centre / SFB 1150 “Cultures of Decision-Making“

Poster of the workshop "Reproductive Decision Making in Comparative Context"
© James McNellis | wikipedia

The workshop will explore reproductive decision making in five different countries [US, West Germany, Sweden, Ireland, and the Soviet Union] in the 1970s and onward. The conditions of women’s reproductive autonomy underwent a significant shift in the early 1970s. As a result of the second wave feminist movement, a number of countries decriminalized abortion. In addition, the introduction of modern contraceptives such as the IUD and the birth control pill significantly changed women’s ability to control reproduction and space childbearing. But these changes were highly contested. Liberal reform did not occur uniformly across different countries. And even in the most liberal settings the relaxation of laws governing birth control and abortion precipitated powerful conservative backlashes. This conference will explore how – in this period of significant social change – women were perceived as moral decision makers.

We are asking: Under what conditions were women considered able to make moral decisions regarding reproduction? When and under what pretense did women gain or were denied reproductive decision-making? How did others [family members, health care providers, clergy, the state etc.] claim the right to decide on behalf of women? What role did moral arguments play in relation to abortion, adoption, and contraception? This volume is the first to compare the conditions of women’s reproductive decision making in different political and religious contexts. Case studies in this volume analyze communist and post-communist Soviet Union, catholic Ireland, and democratic countries with varying legacies of state control of reproduction [Sweden with a long history of state control in reproduction, the US with strong pro-life challenges to legal abortion, West Germany as a welfare state struggling with its Nazi legacy]. This comparative approach allows us to draw on the differences and continuities as political and religious contexts influence understanding of women’s reproductive decision making during the 1970s and 80s. Papers discussed at the conference will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Modern European History in early 2018 (after peer review).


Friday, September 08, 2017

09.15–10.45 Panel 1: USA I: Abortion Care as Moral Work Johanna Schoen, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ
10.45–11.15 Coffee Break
11.15–12.45 Panel 2: USA II: Abortion and Adoption as the two Poles of Reproductive Decision Making in the 1980s Isabel Heinemann, Münster University
13.00–15.00 Lunch: ESG Student Union
15.15–16.45 Panel 3: Sweden: No Backlash for Swedish Women? Abortion in Sweden 1975-2000 Lena Lennerhed, Södertörn University, Stockholm
16.45–17.15 Coffee Break
17.15–18.45 Panel 4: Ireland: Wrong for All Womankind: Anti-Abortion Discourses in Ireland, 1967-1983 Cara Margo Delay, College of Charleston, Charleston SC
19.00 Dinner: A2 am See

Saturday, September 09, 2017

09.00–10.30 Panel 5: West Germany: Pro Familia and the Reform of Abortion Laws in West Germany, 1967-1983 Claudia Roesch, Münster University
10.30–10.45 Coffee Break
10.45–12.15 Panel 6: Abortion Travels:  An International History Leslie Reagan, University of Illinois, Urbana IL
12.15–12.30 Final Comment Mie Nakachi, Hokkaido University, Japan
12.30–12.45 Concluding Discussion
13.00 Lunch: Royals & Rice