Communication Studies, College of Liberal Arts
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
IAS Faculty Fellow, Spring 2021
Back-Alley Abortion: A History of Sanitary Rhetoric and Reproductive Injustice
The project that I am working on this semester is my book project entitled: Back-Alley Abortion: A Rhetorical History. Historians of abortion agree that the pervasiveness of “back-alley butchers” is overestimated and deflects attention away from caring practitioners and supportive community networks that supported healthcare when abortion was a crime. Nevertheless, “back-alley abortion” has been a stubbornly present mainstay in public discourse. This project investigates the pervasive cultural fascination with “back-alley abortion” in order to discern how the phrase negotiates public standards of sanitation, morality, and criminality. By tracing how the phrase “back-alley abortion” circulated through different media outlets, institutions, and advocacy circles, I seek to discern how assumptions of unsanitary space get laminated onto non-white medical practitioners. The aims of this project are twofold. First, this project seeks to deepen our understanding of the rhetorical appeals that perpetuates obstetric injustice in health messaging. Second, I seek to strengthen the rhetoric of health and medicine's attention to medical racism through interdisciplinary engagement with developed approaches to anti-racism in healthcare contexts.