Abortion Politics during the Howard Years: Beyond Liberalisation

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    This article describes the politics of abortion during the Howard years (1996-2007) as a time of significant turbulence. It considers four separate significant developments in abortion discourse in the actions of federal and state governments and parliaments and in the publication of an influential anti-abortion text. It argues that while support for women's choice as a framework for understanding abortion prevailed during the Howard years, the definition of what an abortion is changed significantly towards an experience that is contrary to, rather than consistent with, women's health and well-being. This shift is attributed to the Howard government, the most pro-actively anti-abortion federal government since the early 1970s, and broader white patriarchal discourses of gender that elevated maternity as a moral imperative for women and constructed abortion as a harm.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-261
    Number of pages17
    JournalAustralian Historical Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


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