Ultrasound: A Window to the Womb?: Obstetric Ultrasound and the Abortion Rights Debate

Journal of Medical Humanities 25 (1):7-19 (2004)
This paper explores the rhetoric of obstetric ultrasound technology as it relates to the abortion debate, specifically the interpretation given to ultrasound images by opponents of abortion. The tenor of the anti-abortion approach is precisely captured in the videotape, Ultrasound:A Window to the Womb. Aspects of this videotape are analyzed in order to tease out the assumptions about the (female) body and about the access to truth yielded by scientific technology (ultrasound) held by militant opponents of abortion. It is argued that the ultrasound images do not offer transparent confirmation of the ontological status of the embryo and fetus. Rather, the window of ultrasound is constructed through a complex combination of visual and verbal devices: ultrasound images, photographic images, verbal argument, and emotional appeal.
Keywords obstetric ultrasound  fetal imagery  abortion  ontology
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DOI 10.1023/B:JOMH.0000007447.19765.ee
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Jacqueline M. Davies (2009). Premature (M)Othering : Levinasian Ethics and the Politics of Fetal Ultrasound Imaging. In Sue Campbell, Letitia Meynell & Susan Sherwin (eds.), Embodiment and Agency. Pennsylvania State University Press
David F. Walbert (1973). Abortion, Society, and the Law. Cleveland [Ohio]Press of Case Western Reserve University.

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