Radka Dudová :
Abortion in Socialist Czechoslovakia – A Foucauldian Perspective [25]

« volume 10, number 1/2009

Dudová, Radka. 2009. „Interrupce v socialistickém Československu z foucaultovské perspektivy.“ Gender, rovné příležitosti, výzkum 10 (1): 25-36

Abstract: The right to end an unwanted pregnancy as an integral part of the full citizenship of women has been influenced, reinfluenced, and questioned by different actors in the Czech Republic since the 1950s. Until 1986 the right to abortion was not viewed as a woman’s personal right, but depended upon the decision of abortion commissions and was influenced by the current demographic and political situation. The decision-making process was a very embarrassing experience for many women, who in fact had no other means of contraception available to them. In this paper, I analyse the legal and political regulation of abortion from the perspective of Foucault´s theory of governmentality and biopower. Abortion regulation is an example of how state power influences and disciplines the bodies of its subjects, how it regulates the population and shapes it according to the government’s needs. Through the regulation of abortion, the state not only attempted to restrict a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, but also defined which of its citizens should or should not become a parent and under what circumstances, and who should or should not have the right to be born. In the text I first present the theory of governmentality, then I analyse the periods of the regulation of abortion in socialist Czechoslovakia, and finally I show how this regulation can be understood as an instrument of a specific form of governmentality typical of totalitarian communist regime. 
Keywords: abortion, body, reproductive rights, governmentality 

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