Robson on “Lesbians and Abortions”

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Now available on SSRN is Ruthann Robson’s article, “Lesbians and Abortions,” 35 N.Y.U. Rev. Law & Soc. Change 247 (2011).  Here is a portion of the abstract:

While there are doctrinal and theoretical connections, the arguments for women’s freedom to be a lesbian or to have an abortion are usually articulated independently from each other. At one time, the abortion right seemed more secure than lesbian rights, but recently lesbianism seems to be accorded more legal protection than abortions. This article argues that lesbians have an important stake in the legal recognition of abortion rights.

The article rehearses the doctrinal linkages, distinctions, and relative strength of the rights of lesbians and the right to abortion in American jurisprudence. The remainder of the article discusses the specific overlaps between lesbians and abortion as lived realities and as subject to legal regimes. For example, the article considers the availability of reproductive choice after the choicelessness of rape committed against lesbians, including a discussing of hate crimes against lesbians involving rape and of the erratic “rape exception” to abortion regulations. The next section examines the difficulties lesbians, especially young lesbians, face as what might be called “reproductive amateurs” who can become pregnant. As minors, they may be legally forced to interact with parents or judges hostile to their sexuality as well as to their desire to terminate pregnancy. As both minors and adults, they may be less likely to discover their pregnancy early, and thus they may be more likely to encounter strict time limits in abortion statutes.

The full article is available here.

Separate and apart from the substantive contributions of the article to legal scholarship, Professor Robson understands the importance of translating academic work for a broader audience.  Many of the themes of her law review article are incorporated into this op-ed at, “Abortion Rights are Lesbian Rights.”  Her argument is:

[A]ccess to abortion is essential to lesbians. It is not merely about ideas or legal theories, as important as those are, but about our ordinary lives.

First of all, there is rape. * * *

It might be that no lesbian will ever want an abortion.

But it might be that she will. And that abortion will no longer be legal.

Read the full op-ed here.

Kudos to Professor Robson for this effective one-two combination!

-Bridget Crawford

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