Carly Thomsen is an assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Middlebury College. She completed her PhD in feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a postdoctoral fellowship at Rice University. Her work on reproductive justice, LGBTQ activism, queer rurality, and feminist pedagogy is published in Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Feminist Studies, Feminist Formations, Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, and Social Justice, Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies, The Legacies of Matthew Shepard: Twenty Years Later, and the Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory.
Mechanisms of Empire’s Reproduction: An analysis of crisis pregnancy centers
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are non-profits that view themselves as the provider arm of the anti-abortion movement. Today, there are three times more CPCs in the U.S. than abortion clinics, a significant change from the 1980s when there were more abortion clinics than CPCs (Munson 2009). Despite rarely having medical professionals on staff and avoiding medical regulation due precisely to their not being medical facilities, CPCs often work to appear as if they are medical facilities—an approach that critics worry gives more credence to the false information about abortion that they spread. Feminist activists and filmmakers consistently note that CPCs’ deceptive practices are enabled through their opening CPCs near abortion clinics, an approach through which they intentionally confuse, and thus intercept, those seeking abortion. CPC supporters defend their approaches by claiming that CPCs offer resources to low-income women in need—women who might be seeking abortions because they have so few resources. This paper maps CPCs in the U.S. and examines the demographic make-ups of their locations in terms of race, class, and population density, as well as CPCs’ average distances from abortion clinics. It considers the racial, classed, geographic, and gendered anxieties that have informed the spread of CPCs, ultimately arguing that contemporary abortion politics in the U.S. extend prior scholarly analyses of “patriarchal imperialism” (hooks 2014; Kittell 2010) and serve as a fruitful site for examining empire more broadly.
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