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Constructing abortion as a social problem: “Sex selection” and the British abortion debate

Lee, Ellie J. (2017) Constructing abortion as a social problem: “Sex selection” and the British abortion debate. Feminism and Psychology, 27 (1). pp. 15-33. ISSN 0959-3535. (doi:10.1177/0959353516678010) (KAR id:60432)

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Between February 2012 and March 2015, the claim that sex selection abortion was taking place in Britain and that action needed to be taken to stop it dominated debate in Britain about abortion. Situating an analysis in sociological and social psychological approaches to the construction of social problems, particularly those considering “feminised” re-framings of anti-abortion arguments, this paper presents an account of this debate. Based on analysis of media coverage, Parliamentary debate and official documents, we focus on claims about grounds (evidence) made to sustain the case that sex selection abortion is a British social problem and highlight how abortion was problematised in new ways. Perhaps most notable, we argue, was the level of largely unchallenged vilification of abortion doctors and providers, on the grounds that they are both law violators and participants in acts of discrimination and violence against women, especially those of Asian heritage. We draw attention to the role of claims made by feminists in the media and in Parliament about “gendercide” as part of this process and argue that those supportive of access to abortion need to critically assess both this aspect of the events and also consider arguments about the problems of “medical power” in the light of what took place.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0959353516678010
Uncontrolled keywords: abortion, sex selection, gendercide, feminism, Fiona Bruce, claimsmaking, social problem
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Lucie Patch
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2017 10:54 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2019 13:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Lee, Ellie J.:
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