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"Abortion Will Deprive You of Happiness!": Soviet Reproductive Politics in the Post-Stalin Era

From: Journal of Women's History
Volume 23, Number 3, Fall 2011
pp. 13-38 | 10.1353/jowh.2011.0027

Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines Soviet reproductive politics after the Communist regime legalized abortion in 1955. The regime's new abortion policy did not result in an end to the condemnation of abortion in official discourse. The government instead launched an extensive campaign against abortion. Why did authorities bother legalizing the procedure if they still disapproved of it so strongly? Using archival sources, public health materials, and medical as well as popular journals to investigate the antiabortion campaign, this article argues that the Soviet government sought to regulate gender and sexuality through medical intervention and health "education" rather than prohibition and force in the post-Stalin era. It also explores how the antiabortion public health campaign produced "knowledge" not only about the procedure and its effects, but also about gender and sexuality, subjecting both women and men to new pressures and regulatory norms.



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