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Gendered Violence, Religion and UK-Based Anti-Abortion Activism

In: Religion and Gender
Authors:
Sarah-Jane Page Aston University School of Languages and Social Sciences United Kingdom Birmingham

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6879-536X
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Pam Lowe Aston University School of Languages and Social Sciences United Kingdom Birmingham

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5933-453X
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Abstract

The United Nations view access to abortion as a fundamental human right. Yet increasingly in the UK, religiously-motivated activists undertake public displays opposing abortion, often outside abortion clinics, and precipitated through international campaigns like 40 Days for Life (Lowe and Page forthcoming). Activists see their actions as an essential intervention; some explicitly frame this as a form of help. But examining this from the perspective of how bodies are gendered and regulated in the public sphere raises questions regarding whether this is a form of harassment, and therefore gendered violence. This article is based on a UK ethnography. Using Kelly’s (1988) continuum of violence thesis, we examine whether this activism constitutes gendered violence, examining two different activities—prayer and graphic images. Despite these activities being distinct and contrasting, we argue that both should be understood as part of a continuum of violence, causing harm to those seeking abortion services.

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