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Book Cover for: Unmaking Russia's Abortion Culture: Family Planning and the Struggle for a Liberal Biopolitics, Michele Rivkin-Fish

Unmaking Russia's Abortion Culture: Family Planning and the Struggle for a Liberal Biopolitics

Michele Rivkin-Fish

As the predominant form of birth control in Soviet society, abortion reflected key paradoxes of state socialism: women held formal equality but lacked basic needs such as contraceptives. With market reforms, Russians enjoyed new access to Western contraceptives and new pressures to postpone childbearing until economically self-sufficient. But habits of family planning did not emerge automatically--they required extensive physician retraining, public education, and cultural transformation. In Unmaking Russia's Abortion Culture, author Michele Rivkin-Fish examines the creative strategies of Russians who promoted family planning in place of routine abortion. Rather than emphasizing individual rights, they explained family planning's benefits to the nation--its potential to strengthen families and prevent the secondary sterility that resulted when women underwent repeat, poor-quality abortions. Still, fierce debates about abortion and contraceptives erupted as declining fertility was framed as threatening Russia's demographic sovereignty.

Although Russian family planners embraced a culturally meaningful liberalism that would rationalize public policy and reenchant relations, nationalist opponents cast family planning as suspicious for its association with the individualistic, "child-free" West. This book tells the story of how Russian family planners developed culturally salient frameworks to promote the acceptability of contraceptives and help end routine abortion. It also documents how nationalist campaigns for higher fertility denounced family planning and ultimately dismantled its institutions. By tracing these processes, Unmaking Russia's Abortion Culture demonstrates the central importance of reproductive politics in the struggle for liberalizing social change that preceded Russia's 2022 descent into war, repression, and global marginalization.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
  • Publish Date: Jun 15th, 2024
  • Pages: 388
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00lb
  • EAN: 9780826506962
  • Categories: Abortion & Birth ControlAnthropology - Cultural & SocialDisease & Health Issues

About the Author

Michele Rivkin-Fish is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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