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J Health Soc Behav. 2016 Dec;57(4):503-516. Epub 2016 Nov 17.

The Stratified Legitimacy of Abortions.

Author information

1
University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA, USA katrina.kimport@ucsf.edu.
2
University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA, USA.

Abstract

Roe v. Wade was heralded as an end to unequal access to abortion care in the United States. However, today, despite being common and safe, abortion is performed only selectively in hospitals and private practices. Drawing on 61 interviews with obstetrician-gynecologists in these settings, we examine how they determine which abortions to perform. We find that they distinguish between more and less legitimate abortions, producing a narrative of stratified legitimacy that privileges abortions for intended pregnancies, when the fetus is unhealthy, and when women perform normative gendered sexuality, including distress about the abortion, guilt about failure to contracept, and desire for motherhood. This stratified legitimacy can perpetuate socially-inflected inequality of access and normative gendered sexuality. Additionally, we argue that the practice by physicians of distinguishing among abortions can legitimate legislative practices that regulate and restrict some kinds of abortion, further constraining abortion access.

KEYWORDS:

abortion; gender; physician; qualitative research; sexuality

PMID:
27856971
DOI:
10.1177/0022146516669970
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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