The Scarlet Letter: The Supreme Court and the Language of Abortion Stigma

46 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2012 Last revised: 5 Aug 2013

Date Written: February 1, 2012

Abstract

This article examines how the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence depicts abortion and the woman who seeks an abortion. It analyzes how narratives drawn from the Court’s abortion opinions attribute negative characteristics to women who decide to terminate their pregnancies. These narratives serve both expressive and normative functions, acting to re-enforce abortion stigma and narrow the constitutional legitimacy of reproductive freedom. Abortion stigma should be a concern for the Court, for its engendered judgment of women and for the burden it places on women who seek to exercise their constitutional rights.

Keywords: abortion, stigma, Supreme Court abortion narrative

Suggested Citation

Abrams, Paula L., The Scarlet Letter: The Supreme Court and the Language of Abortion Stigma (February 1, 2012). Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 19, 2013, Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2020020

Paula L. Abrams (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

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