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A Matter of Health and Safety: Science and the State in Texas Abortion Legislation

Reproduction, Health, and Medicine

ISBN: 978-1-78756-172-4, eISBN: 978-1-78756-171-7

Publication date: 22 November 2019


As biomedicine becomes increasingly enmeshed in modern life, biomedicalization processes have implications for reproductive policy, including abortion policy. Informed consent provisions have been a prominent trend in state-level abortion lawmaking in the United States in recent years. Modeled on the practice of securing informed consent for medical procedures, informed consent provisions stipulate the information a person must receive before they can consent to an abortion. Informed consent provisions purportedly require that this information be objective, scientifically accurate, and non-judgmental. Through an analysis of informed consent provisions in Texas abortion legislation from 1993 to 2015, this chapter explores how such provisions employ medical and biomedical tropes to frame regulations that restrict access to abortion care as ostensibly protecting women’s health and safety. I find that informed consent legislation in Texas selectively borrows from medical and biomedical lexicons, cites strategic empirical evidence, and co-opts medical techniques and experts in ways that encumber abortion access.




I thank my colleagues at the University of New Mexico, particularly Kristin Barker, Aubrey L. Jackson, and Owen Whooley for helpful comments on an earlier version of this chapter. I also thank the anonymous reviewer and Miranda Waggoner for insightful suggestions and valuable feedback.


Kenney, A.M. (2019), "A Matter of Health and Safety: Science and the State in Texas Abortion Legislation", Reproduction, Health, and Medicine (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 153-172.



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