Civic Feminism and Voluntary Abortion Care: A story of ESCORT's Contribution to Reproductive Justice
A chapter for Aideen Quilty, Sinead Kennedy and Catherine Conlon eds. The Abortion Papers Ireland: Volume 2. Cork University Press, 2015 (137-149).
17 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 01, 2014
This chapter argues that abortion support groups like ESCORT are civic feminisms that make a distinctive contribution to reproductive justice by destigmatising abortion and providing socio-economic support to those in search of abortion care. Civic feminisms are small scale, relatively short-lived, practice-focused groups who organize so as to have a beneficial impact on women’s lives. They generate feminist community in response to specific problems, and make a difference by enhancing women’s sense of belonging in spaces where they have been made feel ‘out of place’. Drawing on two pseudo-anonymised interviews with past co-ordinators of ESCORT (who were based in Liverpool between 1988-2004), I show how they generated a civic feminism by mobilizing their affiliations and commitments as volunteers and (past) students to carve out a safe space for abortion-seekers. Secondly, the chapter discusses the ways in which ESCORT responded to and sought to connect with the women they supported. To ESCORT’s co-ordinators, abortion-seeking women were resilient and creative in addressing their own needs and in tackling discrimination. Thinking about this civic feminism as a contribution to reproductive justice facilitates critical reflection on the different possible features of ‘just abortion care’ as we struggle to bring it into being.
Keywords: reproductive justice; abortion support groups; civic feminism; pro-choice activism; ESCORT
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