The workplace as a site of abortion surveillance

Fiona K. Bloomer, Danielle Mackle, Noirin MacNamara, Claire Pierson, Stephen Bloomer

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Abstract

Analysis of the experiences and resulting inequalities in reproductive health in the workplace has generated studies of pregnancy, miscarriage, menstruation, fertility and menopause. One issue that has remained outside of this literature is abortion. How abortion is talked about (or not talked about), experienced and perceived as a workplace issue were the central questions in our research undertaken in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2017. Our study comprised a survey (3180 respondents) followed by a series of online focus groups (61 participants) with trade union members from a broad range of workplaces, with the aim of investigating how abortion was positioned in workplaces within legally restrictive regimes. We conceptualize how self-disciplining, silence and abortion stigma are reproduced in workplaces, drawing on a feminist Foucauldian framework to examine disciplinary power. We examine evidence of how, in conservative societies, abortion talk is suppressed, and we generate new theoretical knowledge on how disciplinary power undermines resistance to anti-abortion norms and demonstrate the function of the normalizing gaze in the workplace. We conclude by offering avenues for future research on abortion stigma and disci-plinary power, to extend further knowledge and conceptual framing of abortion as a workplace issue.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGENDER, WORK & ORGANISATION
Early online date26 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 26 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank participants, steering group members, Alliance for Choice, Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th, UNITE the Union, Unison, Mandate Trade Union, the CWU Ireland and the GMB. Funding for the research was provided by UNITE the Union, Unison, Mandate Trade Union, the CWU Ireland and the GMB.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Gender, Work & Organization published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • abortion
  • abortion policy
  • abortion law
  • abortion stigma
  • Trade Unions

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