Abortion in Chile: Biopolitics and Contemporary Feminist Resistance

Vivaldi Macho, Lieta Valeria. 2019. Abortion in Chile: Biopolitics and Contemporary Feminist Resistance. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Until as recently as September 2017, Chile was one of the few countries in the world that did not permit abortion under any circumstances. Although the Health Code had regulated therapeutic abortion (or abortion on health grounds) from 1931, this was repealed in 1989 as one of Pinochet’s last acts in office, leaving women to seek terminations clandestinely. Feminists initially thought that this was an administrative act and would be easy to revert, but it actually took more than 25 years. The Act that was finally approved in 2017 allows abortion on three grounds: when a woman’s life is in danger, when there are foetal anomalies incompatible with life, and in the case of rape. As the law allows abortion only in limited cases, most women will have to continue to seek illegal abortions as previously.

As the law has been passed, I argue that to focus solely on the legal as the site at which feminism ‘loses’ or ‘succeeds’ is to eclipse the wider feminist activity and removes the requisite attention needed to understand the task of feminism. This thesis shows how the feminist struggle is part of a wider dispositif in which feminism emerges as a set of interventions into the different ways in which abortion is constructed. Feminism is in this sense a relational mode of constructing power/knowledge, intervening and attempting to influence the dispositif and being influenced in turn. I consider key events, the parliamentary debates, visual campaigns, and contemporary challenges. In particular, feminist work shows the importance of vulnerable bodies resisting and challenging conservative or reactionary modes of biopolitics in contemporary Chile.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Abortion, feminist movement, sexual and reproductive rights, feminist theory, Foucault

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28 February 2019

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Date Deposited:

04 Apr 2019 14:53

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14



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