My research stems from my broad interests in gender and race politics, healthcare, sexuality and the intersections between the personal and the political. My monograph, The Politics of Abortion and the Rise of Conservatism in the U.S., 1960 to 2000 draws on research conducted in over twenty-eight archives archives and over forty interviews with American anti-abortion activists. I argue that leaders of the anti-abortion movement and conservative politicians linked voters’ attitudes toward civil rights, feminism and welfare to larger anxieties over medical advancements and the expansion of the state to build a conservative coalition that would revolutionize American politics.
Key questions I explore include: is there a difference between human biological life and personhood? If there is a difference, when should the law recognize the beginning and ending of personhood and what are society’s obligations to human life outside the boundaries of personhood? What function should reproduction have in defining men and women’s roles in society and their rights under the law and obligations to the state? What sources of authority and knowledge should courts and policy makers cite to justify their conclusions when different constituencies present competing rights claims? What is the balance between a government’s concerns over population growth and resource allocation and an individual’s desire to plan a family? Are there a public and private sphere, and if so where is the boundary between the public and private? While humans have asked these questions across time and space, the answers became more politically potent as the scientific and technological advancements of the twentieth century introduced new human reproductive capabilities and expanded the state’s reach in individuals’ lives. Today as in the past, humans have yet to resolve these questions or to determine with any finality if abortion is a social evil, good, or necessity. Few however doubt that the expansion of legal abortion access in the twentieth century has had a radical impact on individuals, families and states throughout the world.