Wednesday 12 April 2023
08.30 - 10.30
Agnieszka Balcerzak :
Brave Sisters or “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”: Reproductive Rights, Abortion Access and Corporeal Autonomy in Poland and Croatia
Political struggles over pregnancy termination are longstanding in Europe and reveal a Europe of antagonisms in political, moral and religious questions. On the one hand, there is legal respect of fundamental human rights with regard to sexuality and reproduction and an increasing acceptance of corporeal and reproductive autonomy, promoted by ... (Show more)
Political struggles over pregnancy termination are longstanding in Europe and reveal a Europe of antagonisms in political, moral and religious questions. On the one hand, there is legal respect of fundamental human rights with regard to sexuality and reproduction and an increasing acceptance of corporeal and reproductive autonomy, promoted by a think tank of feminist NGOs and networks, liberal parties and a progressive European civil society. On the other hand, there are persistent Christian-conservative tendencies towards moralization controlled by an alliance of religious dignitaries, ultra-right-wing political parties, official government agencies and activists of fundamentalist “pro-life” organizations, whose “Anti-Abortion Crusades” in the media and “Demonstrations for Traditional Marriage and Family” as part of “Festivals for Life” are only the spearhead of a well-networked, Europe-wide “pro-life” and pro-family movement.
In the last decade, a dynamic erosion of long-held abortion rights can be observed especially in Poland and Croatia, two still overwhelmingly Catholic Eastern European countries. In Poland, after a long “war on abortion” that has polarized the country since the 1990s, the near-total abortion ban came into effect in early 2021. Since then, abortion is only permitted in situations of risk to the life or health of a pregnant woman, or if a pregnancy results from incest or rape. While terminating a pregnancy is legal in Croatia – according to the current law, which has been in force since 1978 allowing abortions on request up to 10 weeks after conception – access to abortion is becoming increasingly challenging. The Church, the ruling conservative HDZ and several ultra-conservative organisations such as Ordo Iuris, Vigilare and In the Name of the Family are leading the charge of the anti-abortion narration supporting social stigma of abortion, conscientious objection in the gynecological profession or prayer vigils in front of abortion hospitals to deter women.
In practice, in both countries it became increasingly difficult or almost impossible for those women eligible for a legal abortion to obtain one. Every year thousands of women leave Poland or Croatia to access abortion care in other European countries, while others import medical abortion pills. But the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions make travel for abortion and access to medication prohibitively difficult and costly. Furthermore, abortion advocacy groups in Poland face the additional challenge of delivering abortion access to pregnant Ukrainian refugees, also those raped by Russian soldiers since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2022. Feminist initiatives such as Abortion Dream Team (Poland) and Brave Sisters (Croatia), oppose the bans and crisis situations by organizing pro-choice demonstrations, workshops on access to medical abortion or providing psychological and legal support to women who decide to terminate their pregnancies. Only over the last year, the rule-breaking Polish collective and founding member of the international initiative Abortion Without Borders, have helped 34.000 women from Poland to access safe abortion services.
Based on a methodological triangulation of discourse analysis, participant observations and qualitative interviews, and drawing on approaches to network theory, the politics of aesthetics, and protest mobilization, the presented paper investigates the logics, images and strategies of abortion access in Poland and Croatia by taking the nexus of politics, religion, gender and feminist activism into account. The ethnographic study considers some implications of the abortion debate for feminist activism and aims at a critical discussion of feminist solidarity and its political power(lessness) to create transformative social change in a time of socio-political crises, rising populism and anti-genderism in Europe. (Show less)
Sophia Koenig :
“Once we are safe and free from risk, we will be satisfied”: Strategies on Midwives, Reforming Midwifery and the Role of Midwives’ Representatives in Germany 1918–1933
From 1900 onwards, infant mortality had become a major political and social concern and reforms in midwifery and infant care were deemed necessary to reduce its occurrence. Time and time again, midwives became the centre of attention. Some considered them to be part of the solution– a profession that was ... (Show more)
From 1900 onwards, infant mortality had become a major political and social concern and reforms in midwifery and infant care were deemed necessary to reduce its occurrence. Time and time again, midwives became the centre of attention. Some considered them to be part of the solution– a profession that was able to guarantee safety before, during and after birth. Some doctors however considered them to be part of the problem itself: Poorly trained women who caused a significant portion of infant deaths.
Politicians as well as Pediatricians and Obstetricians/Gynecologists considered the desolate economic and working situation of most midwives to be a major issue that might negatively affect the quality of care provided by midwives, creating a risk for expecting mothers. In 1918, German midwives suffered from an extreme poverty risk due to a combination of reduced birth rates, low pay, extreme competition and inadequate financial support. Therefore, a set of reforms were introduced with the intention to improve situation of midwives as it seemed imperative to reduce the poverty risk for midwives and thereby the risk of poor care for expecting mothers.
I would like to elaborate on why the situation for midwives became so desolate and how the aforementioned economic risks influenced their work. For example, some doctors believed that midwives encouraged women to stop breastfeeding so that they would get pregnant again sooner. This was of particular importance because breastfeeding was seen as a major step in reducing infant mortality. There was also concerns that with financial support for retired or ill midwives being too low, midwives were forced to work regardless of their health. Others believed that poor women were at greater risk because midwives might have an incentive to prefer affluent clients over less fortunate ones.
I would like to analyze how these reforms affected the situation of midwives and their work. Furthermore, I am also going to comment whether fears that midwives’ work might suffer due to their financial hardships were based in reality and actual accounts of harmful malpractice or whether they were based on prejudices and bias against the midwives’ profession.
Throughout my presentation, I would like to comment on the point-of-view of midwives themselves: How did the German midwives’ associations influence these reforms and how did midwives articulate and campaign for their own interests in a male-dominated field such as public healthcare? Did they also focus on the risk their economic situation meant for their medical practice or did they use other arguments for achieving their goal?
Up until 1938, midwifery in Germany was not regulated on a state level. I am going to include findings from my research about midwifery in Saxony, a state that was of major importance for midwives during the Weimar Republic. Saxonian midwife Emma Rauschenbach co-founded and led the most influential German midwives’ association during the Weimar years and was a central figure in the midwives’ movement. I will compare my findings with research about midwifery reforms in Prussia and Northern Rhine Westphalia in order to be able to comment on the development in Germany as a whole. (Show less)
Nathalie Le Bouteillec :
Equal Rights to Parents: the Paternity Procedure in Sweden and its Consequences for the Child
In 1917, the legal framework in Sweden concerning non-marital parenting was changed in order to provide for the children born out of wedlock. Before 1917, maternity and paternity outside marriage were conditional on the parents' willingness to recognize a child. Marriage was the only institution that awarded a de facto ... (Show more)
In 1917, the legal framework in Sweden concerning non-marital parenting was changed in order to provide for the children born out of wedlock. Before 1917, maternity and paternity outside marriage were conditional on the parents' willingness to recognize a child. Marriage was the only institution that awarded a de facto father and mother to the child. The law of June 14, 1917, on children born out of wedlock changed the rights of these children by ending the anonymous childbirth and imposing the designation of a father. The mother could not refuse the maternity of the child. The right of the child to know its origins was opposed to the rights of the parents to remain anonymous. The parents also had to provide the child with care and education, thus to take responsibility for the child in a way which attests to the recognition of family ties outside of marriage. Parental responsibilities were no longer attached to the status of filiation.
Although the mother was vested with parental authority, the legislature entrusted the municipal administrations, and in particular the Commission for Child Protection, with the responsibility of appointing a "guardian" or curator (barnarvårdsman) for any child born out marriage. The barnarvårdsman was also responsible for investigating and establishing the paternity of the child. In the majority of the cases, the search for paternity and the determination of the amount of child support were dealt with out of court. The man who was recognized as the father of the child undertook to pay maintenance in writing. When the parties could not agree, a legal procedure was launched. Similarly, when the mother refused to entrust the identity of the father to the barnarvårdsman, the curator had to initiate an action in search for paternity. Through history the laws and techniques for identifying the father developed. As with the 1933 Act, which recognized the right of the father to require a blood test and more recently with the DNA technology which in fact has shown that legally determined fathers who have not agreed to this in some cases have not been the biological fathers.
In this communication we explore the development of the search for paternity since the adoption of the law of 1917 until today in Sweden. We begin with the legislative debates during the preparation of the 1917 law. We then analyze the modalities provided by this law to the practices of paternity research. We trace the history of paternity research until today by studying how the responsibilities (allowances) towards children that are not spontaneously recognized by fathers have developed and what rights it implies for these children concerning inheritance. Our main question is if this policy always has been pursued in the interest of the child. (Show less)
Gizem Sivri :
Motherhood and Pregnancy in the Late Ottoman Prisons
In this presentation, I aim at dealing with specific themes and cases from my dissertation project to touch upon the effects of femininity on the women’s imprisonment practices in the late Ottoman empire. Hence, this study creates a special narrative by combining the issues of representation of gendered criminal identity, ... (Show more)
In this presentation, I aim at dealing with specific themes and cases from my dissertation project to touch upon the effects of femininity on the women’s imprisonment practices in the late Ottoman empire. Hence, this study creates a special narrative by combining the issues of representation of gendered criminal identity, the femininity of women’s inmates, and peculiar incarceration practices within the light of archival materials. In summary, this presentation concentrates on the incarceration of women prisoners in leased prison houses alias imams’ houses, the effects of femininity on their imprisonment in proper and leased prisons for women in the late Ottoman Empire.
In this regard, first of all, I will briefly touch on the identification of women’s criminal behaviors, perception of female criminality and depiction of female offenders as “active” doers, and the effects of gendered criminality understanding which all formed specific punishment ways and unique incarceration practices for the female offenders. These punitive methods inevitably engendered the unique prison politics for women prisoners. Above all, the femininity of the inmates paved the way for completely “different” penal practices against women inmates in the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Therefore, this presentation will initially shed light on their criminal behaviors and perception of female criminals’ agency in penal studies. Afterward, the effects of the femininity of Ottoman women inmates will be comprehensively analyzed in the light of archival materials which will draw a broader framework to illustrate varied and ambivalent imprisonment practices, other punishment methods, and the special measures for their incarceration processes. On the other hand, it enabled to emphasize peculiarities and uniqueness of women prisoners’ imprisonment which stimulated distinctive treatments and more tolerant penal practices specifically for the mother inmates. In other words, the Ottoman prison system has displayed original and peculiar punishment ways and imprisonment measures for pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and sick female inmates through the penal codifications and regulations. In short, this presentation will provide archival cases, judicial and penal records, and amnesty documents to exemplify varied imprisonment practices in women’s prisons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All in all, this study aspires to examine being a female prisoner as a murderer mother, breastfeeding, pregnant, old, and sick women offender in the late Ottoman prison system. (Show less)