Feminist Scholarship and Its Relevance for Political Engagement: The Test Case of Abortion in the US

In: Religion and Gender

This essay explores how gender studies in academe, including in religious studies, might remain relevant to ongoing feminist political engagement. I explore some specific dynamics of this challenge, using as my test case the issue of abortion in the US. After discussing how three formative feminist principles (women’s experience as feminism’s starting point, the personal is political, and identity politics) have shaped approaches to the abortion issue for feminist scholars in religion, I argue that ongoing critique, new theoretical perspectives, and attentiveness to subaltern voices are necessary for these foundational feminist principles to keep pace with fast-changing and complex societal dynamics relevant to women’s struggles for reproductive health and justice. The essay concludes by proposing natality as a helpful concept for future feminist theological and ethical thinking on the subject.

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