Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Daughton, Suzanne

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to rhetorically examine how women who have had abortions construct their abortion experience, with particular attention given to the role of various identity factors (such as race, nationality, class, spirituality, and geographic location) in the construction of their experiences. By giving voice to women's experiences and placing this voice in a historical context of differential racialization, as well as within both Critical Race Feminism (CRF) and Reproductive Justice (RJ) frameworks, this dissertation asks: How does the narrator construct the importance of her identity in her abortion and reproductive health services experiences?; Does the narrator link previous reproductive health services issues, such as sex education or cost of birth control, to her abortion experiences?; Does the narrator link her abortion experience to larger social structures and power issues?; How does the narrator construct her experience of abortion? What emotional elements does she present in her construction of the narrative?; How does the narrator construct her experience of deciding to have an abortion?; How does the narrator construct the role of her social support system in her abortion experience?; and How does the narrator reflect on her abortion experience? This dissertation argues that while women experience and construct abortion in very different ways, common experiential themes emerge. While women do not all construct or reflect upon their abortion experiences in the same way, narrative themes emerge that fade in and out of focus based on a woman's standpoint and the various aspects and intersections of her identity. In light of the emergent themes, this dissertation suggests enhanced opportunities for the sharing of women's abortion experiences, as well as more academic and activist work to examine and raise public awareness about issues of power and privilege in the abortion process.

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