Feminism, Foetocentrism, and the Politics of Abortion Choice in 1970s Australia

  • Erica Millar


This chapter examines two contrasting movements for the repeal of abortion laws and the degree to which politicians deployed their contrasting frames of abortion in 1970s Australia. It argues that the radical gender politics that drove the Women’s Liberation Movement’s abortion campaign was largely disavowed in the formal political arena and, instead, anti-abortion sentiment was infused into the dominant mode of framing a position that would come to be called “pro-choice.” Such anti-abortion sentiment included a foetocentric framing of abortion, the privileging of other forms of contraception as morally superior to abortion, and the reiteration of class-based assumptions pertaining to “good mothers.” The chapter thus historicises an ambiguity regarding abortion—where it is simultaneously accepted as necessary and admonished as morally negligent—that lies at the heart of contemporary abortion politics.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Millar
    • 1
  1. 1.Gender Studies and Social AnalysisThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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