Feminism, the State, and the centrality of reproduction: abortion struggles in 1970s Italy

Bracke, M. A. (2017) Feminism, the State, and the centrality of reproduction: abortion struggles in 1970s Italy. Social History, 42(4), pp. 524-546. (doi: 10.1080/03071022.2017.1368234)

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This article analyses an episode of intense socio-political conflict over the question of abortion in 1970s Italy. Considering the shifting positions of feminist groups and other pro-legalization actors on the one hand, and institutions, political parties and the Church on the other, it offers a new analysis of social mobilization, leading to parliamentary debate and legal change. It presents an original approach to an understanding of feminist challenges to patriarchal cultures and institutions, and of the latter’s immediate responses. Focusing on Italy but referring to developments in other industrialized countries, the article inscribes the history of the battle for reproductive rights in 1970s Italy within a framework centred on the Foucauldian notion of biopolitical power. It is argued that the legal settling of the issue came to be seen by state actors as central to the wider socio-political stabilization of the country. For feminists, the question of abortion was less straightforward than is often assumed. Italian feminist debate, while visibly impacting on wider society, was marked by dilemmas around the private and the public, the relationship to the state, and concerns around centring the feminist agenda on reproduction.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by a European Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bracke, Professor Maud
Authors: Bracke, M. A.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Social History
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1470-1200
Published Online:28 September 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in Social History 42(4): 524-546
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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