Harris Lecture: Abortion and the 'Woman Question': Forty Years of Debate

16 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2015  

Reva Siegel

Yale University - Law School ; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: September 27, 2012

Abstract

For the last four decades, abortion has been the site of struggles over the woman question, just as for decades schools were the site of struggles over the race question, or today the institution of marriage is the site of struggles over the standing of gays and lesbians. This lecture commemorates Roe’s fortieth anniversary by reconstructing how the woman question became entangled in the abortion debate in the twentieth century.

The abortion debate is commonly thought to concern the question of when life begins. But the question of when life begins is not the only question that makes the abortion debate explosive. I will show how the entrance of women’s rights claims into the abortion debate fatefully changed it, and led opponents of abortion to engage the woman question in terms that have changed shape over the last several decades, from the frames of “pro-family” to the more contemporary discourse associated with claims that “abortion hurts women.” Tracing the four decade arc of this conversation allows us to see more clearly the many forms in which the “woman question” can be expressed in cases that will reach the Roberts Court in the coming decade.

Keywords: abortion, Roe, constitution law, privacy, equality, life, women

Suggested Citation

Siegel, Reva, Harris Lecture: Abortion and the 'Woman Question': Forty Years of Debate (September 27, 2012). Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 89, 2014; Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 544. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2559988

Reva B. Siegel (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-6791 (Phone)

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
156
rank
172,938
Abstract Views
592
PlumX