Implicit Narratives About Women

63 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2024

See all articles by Sharon Bassan

Sharon Bassan

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law; DePaul University

Date Written: February 2, 2024


In the dynamic landscape of legal academia, narrative analysis emerges as a captivating and essential avenue of exploration. Narratives shape laws, policies, and societal norms, urging readers to recognize the profound influence of stories in the often-overlooked realms of legal discourse. Yet, the realm of storytelling, particularly within the nuanced sphere of court rulings, often goes unnoticed. The article takes the reader on an intellectual journey, delving into the intricate world where legal, ethical, and feminist perspectives converge with the power of storytelling, where narratives wield transformative power. It offers critical reading of the rhetoric and narratives in two legal cases that address the constitutionality of restricted access to reproductive practices. The first, a Supreme Court ruling from Israel, establishes the eligibility of same-sex couples and single men for domestic surrogacy services after years of ineligibility. The second, the ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. At first glance, it may seem like another article on reproductive technologies. Well, it isn’t. The article contends that the narratives woven within legal proceedings are not mere rhetorical devices but wield ethical and practical significance. Focusing on the importance of the narrative in court and what they imply about women in society the article carves out the implicit image of women as implied by the narratives in the courts’ ruling and considers the rulings’ potential to affect women’s life opportunities. This analysis serves as a methodological tool to uncover the underlying values, assumptions, and narratives that courts both rely upon and, perhaps more significantly, dismiss.

Findings expose tensions between women’s rights and life opportunities and competing interests – those of single men to be parents (in the Israeli case) and those of fetuses (in the Dobbs case). The analysis shows a similar use of narratives in both contexts - systematically downplaying women’s interests, restricting their opportunities and minimizing their autonomy. The realistic analysis advocated for in the article emphasizes the imperative of adopting a women-focused narrative when discussing reproductive practices performed on women's bodies. The failure to do so, the article argues, carries far-reaching ramifications on women's experiences and life opportunities. Lessons from both cases are relevant to ongoing and future advocacy fights, and the future implications they entail.

Suggested Citation

Bassan, Sharon, Implicit Narratives About Women (February 2, 2024). Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Research Paper Series No. Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Sharon Bassan (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

DePaul University ( email )

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