October 2008, Volume 94, Issue 6|
Destabilizing Discourses: Blocking and Exploiting a New Discourse at Work in Gonzales v. Carhart
94 Va. L. Rev. 1451 (2008)
The purpose of this Note is to identify and analyze the interrelated discourses at work in Gonzales v. Carhart, focusing on the woman-protective discourse, in order to reveal the discourse’s origins, expose its manipulations of Casey’s undue burden test, and identify its strengths and weaknesses. Part I of this Note defines and describes the discourses at work in Gonzales, focusing on the cumulative work these discourses perform together and noting a meaningful series of shifts over time. Part II analyzes the woman-protective discourse in a variety of ways in order to draw out its assumptions, expose its historical predecessors, and outline exactly how it has manipulated the undue burden test. Part III examines ways in which this discourse can be resisted, using more traditional feminist methods, as well as ways in which it can be exploited to destabilize the undue burden test and promote women’s autonomy in non-abortion contexts.
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