Making politics visible: Discourses on Gender and Race in the Problematisation of Sex-Selective Abortion

Sundari Anitha, Aisha K. Gill

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This paper examines the problematisation of sex-selective abortion (SSA) in UK parliamentary debates on Fiona Bruce’s Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill 2014-15 and on the subsequent proposed amendment to the Serious Crime Bill 2014. On the basis of close textual analysis, we argue that a discursive framing of SSA as a form of cultural oppression of minority women in need of protection underpinned Bruce’s Bill; in contrast, by highlighting issues more commonly articulated in defence of women’s abortion rights, the second set of debates displaced this framing in favour of a broader understanding, drawing on post-colonial feminist critiques, of how socio-economic factors constrain all women in this regard. We argue that the problematisation of SSA explains the original cross-party support for, and subsequent defeat of, the policies proposed to restrict SSA. Our analysis also highlights the central role of ideology in the policy process, thus making politics visible in policy-making.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

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