Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence
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Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence

Edited by Robin West and Cynthia G. Bowman

The Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence surveys feminist theoretical understandings of law, including liberal and radical feminism, as well as socialist, relational, intersectional, post-modern, and pro-sex and queer feminist legal theories.
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Chapter 14: Against Roe exceptionalism: degendering abortion

Noya Rimalt


This chapter argues that feminist scholars and prochoice advocates considering the key shortcomings of abortion case law have overlooked an important aspect of Roe v Wade. Roe did not simply conceptualize abortion as a privacy right; it also framed the abortion issue as raising a unique legal dilemma not comparable to any other constitutional issue previously resolved by the US Supreme Court. In Roe’s conception, abortion was born as a unique feminine right. The chapter supplements feminist critique of Roe and the search for a stronger conceptualization of abortion rights with a challenge to Roe’s ‘difference’ approach to abortion. It elucidates the manner in which the legal terrain of abortion can and should be viewed as legally relevant for both sexes and calls for the conceptualization of abortion as a unisex right that is grounded in well-established (male) legal protections.

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