Anti-abortion legislation: What is the problem represented to be? : A critical policy analysis of the “heartbeat bills” in the United States.

University essay from Umeå universitet/Umeå centrum för genusstudier (UCGS)

Abstract: Since the introduction of a new type of anti-abortion legislation in the United States which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, women’s options regarding abortion are being limited. How “problems” are represented or constituted in legislation shows that problems are time, place and context dependant. By using Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the problem represented to be?” approach to policy analysis, problem representations and subjectification effects in the heartbeat bills were identified. The problem representation of abortion as “lack of information” emerged as the central problem representation and the subject positions that were made available limits women’s choices regarding abortion. Fetal rights emerged as the core of the argumentation in the legislation, excluding women’s rights. How the problem of abortion is represented to be, the subjectification effects and the way rights are used and argued for in antiabortion legislation shows how they effectively limits women’s abortion choices.

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