Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Abortion-Political aspects, Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984, Klein, Melanie, Control (Psychology), Power (Social science), Pro-life movement, Abortion, Power, Policy, Anti-choice, Ideology


This theoretical study explores the external power dynamics and internal psychic processes involved in both historical and contemporary anti-choice ideology, practice, and rhetoric. The three primary tactics of the anti-choice movement and current "war on women" involve 1) promoting the establishment of fetal personhood through measures—both rhetorical and political, 2) the co-opting of feminist and liberal rhetoric in establishing a woman-centered, as opposed to fetus-centered, anti-abortion strategy, and 3) the use of incremental policy measures and restrictions at the state and local level, including the creation of legal and practical barriers to the procedure for both women and abortion providers. These tactics will be explored through an application of postmodern theorist Michel Foucault's discourse of analysis, focusing on concepts of biopower, governmentality, and discipline, and through psychoanalytic theorist Melanie Klein's concepts of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions, projective identification, and primal envy. Three specific state policies from 2011-2012 will be explored in a discussion and synthesis of these theoretical lenses.




iv, 93 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 88-93)