Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the by Valerie Hartouni

By Valerie Hartouni

Booklet through Hartouni, Valerie

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31 Harrison's choice of words and Frigoletto's comparison are instructive. The fetus is neither a "person" nor an "individual" in the strict sense of either word or, as we have seen, for constitutional purposes. 32 Ill If we have witnessed a growing public preoccupation—indeed, obsession—with fetal life over the course of the past decade and a half, no less obsessive has been the popular preoccupation with women. "33 Although it is hardly novel to present abortion as a conflict between the opposing claims of fetuses and women, the opening statement of Nightline's special report is striking in that it reformulates this opposition and, in so doing, fundamentally transforms it.

Resurrecting the adage "Anatomy is destiny," and giving it renewed force, Patrick Steptoe, "father" of the first in vitro conceived or test-tube baby, frames the matter this way: "It is a fact that there is a biological drive to reproduce. "55 What Time and other popular newsmagazines fail to report are precisely those details that expose the apparently seamless and selfevident reality of infertility as a contestable composition of specific Containing Women I 45 and predictable interests. For example, contrary to its popular presentation as a problem that overwhelmingly afflicts white, affluent, highly educated women, the incidence of infertility is actually higher among the nonwhite and poorly educated.

The 19805 began, need we remind ourselves, in a flurry of antiabortion, antigay, anti-ERA, profamily, prolife, proAmerican rhetoric. 10 Indeed, in the early years of the 19805, abortion became not only the symbol of the general malaise that was slowly but persistently destroying the social body (as it destroyed the natural-familial-maternal body), but the ideological centerpiece of the New Right's campaign to revitalize the country politically and rehabilitate it morally. Thus, in April 1981, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee headed by conservative Senators John East and Orrin Hatch began hearings to Containing Women I 33 determine the life status of the fetus.

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