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Kvinnan och fostret: En diskursanalys av Europadomstolens syn på den kvinnliga kroppen

Jägfeldt, Emelie LU (2012) JURM02 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
Women have performed abortions during all times. For most of history abortion, however, has been treated as a social taboo and was therefore illegal in most countries until the mid 1900’s. The sexual revolution during the 1960’s and 1970’s, combined with major scientific advances in the field of human reproduction, has come to play a critical role in a changed view of the role of women in society. At present, Europe occupies a highly fragmented approach to the abortion issue. Swedish and English abortion legislation is in this context very liberal in comparison with Irish and Polish abortion legislation, which tends to give priority to the rights of the unborn fetus. The basis for these different legislations is, amongst other things,... (More)
Women have performed abortions during all times. For most of history abortion, however, has been treated as a social taboo and was therefore illegal in most countries until the mid 1900’s. The sexual revolution during the 1960’s and 1970’s, combined with major scientific advances in the field of human reproduction, has come to play a critical role in a changed view of the role of women in society. At present, Europe occupies a highly fragmented approach to the abortion issue. Swedish and English abortion legislation is in this context very liberal in comparison with Irish and Polish abortion legislation, which tends to give priority to the rights of the unborn fetus. The basis for these different legislations is, amongst other things, religious and cultural differences building on very different views on female sexuality.

This thesis deals with analyzing the view of the European Court upon the female body, relative to the human reproduction, from a radical feminist point of view. In order to undertake this analysis, a discourse analysis method is primarily applied. The starting point for the discourse analysis is that, inter alia, legal entities are to a large extent created as a result of the discussions taking place in Court. The law in this context is not addressed as an objective truth, but as a social construction based on societal values. The thesis analysis is based on three theories as represented by Shulamith Firestone, Catherine MacKinnon and Iris Young. The focus of the analysis is sex rulings of the European Court concerning reproduction. Five of these Court cases deal with abortion, while the remaining case deals with the right not to become a parent as a result of artificial insemination.

The discourse analysis shows that the European Court occupies an ambivalent attitude towards the female body, which tends to be given a very relative value depending on various circumstances. From a radical feminist point of view, the analysis points to three key discourses in the six Court cases. These discourses are the Court’s reluctance to discuss abortion in terms of bodily integrity, the Court’s tendency to discuss abortion almost exclusively as a conflict between the mother and the fetus, and finally the Court’s reluctance to discuss abortion as an issue affecting women as a group. The European Court thus rarely chooses to discuss the woman’s physical and physiological integrity with respect to her body as such, but almost exclusively in relation to the fetus, the society and public morals. From a radical feminist point of view, these discourses could be interpreted as an expression of society’s domination over women – this since the female body is often described in terms of a passive construction, the primary purpose of which is to ensure human reproduction.

If the European Court, however, were to shift focus with respect to the abortion issue in order to address primarily the bodily integrity, the result would become a very powerful political statement by the Court. In view of the subsidiary nature of the European Convention, it is likely that the member states would hereby come to challenge the Court’s action as a possible violation of the international law principle of sovereignty. It remains to consider whether such a strong political statement, in relation to the woman’s bodily integrity, would be worth the risk. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Kvinnor har låtit utföra abort under alla tider. Under merparten av historiens gång har ingreppet emellertid behandlats som ett samhälleligt tabu och var därför olagligt i flertalet länder fram till mitten på 1900-talet. Den sexuella revolutionen under 1960- och 1970-talet, i kombination med stora vetenskapliga framsteg på området för mänsklig reproduktion, har kommit att spela en avgörande roll för en förändrad syn på kvinnans roll i samhället. I nuläget intar Europa ett mycket splittrat förhållningssätt till abortfrågan. Svensk och engelsk abortlagstiftning är i detta sammanhang mycket liberal i jämförelse med irländsk och polsk abortlagstiftning, som tenderar att prioritera det ofödda fostrets rättigheter. Till grund för dessa skilda... (More)
Kvinnor har låtit utföra abort under alla tider. Under merparten av historiens gång har ingreppet emellertid behandlats som ett samhälleligt tabu och var därför olagligt i flertalet länder fram till mitten på 1900-talet. Den sexuella revolutionen under 1960- och 1970-talet, i kombination med stora vetenskapliga framsteg på området för mänsklig reproduktion, har kommit att spela en avgörande roll för en förändrad syn på kvinnans roll i samhället. I nuläget intar Europa ett mycket splittrat förhållningssätt till abortfrågan. Svensk och engelsk abortlagstiftning är i detta sammanhang mycket liberal i jämförelse med irländsk och polsk abortlagstiftning, som tenderar att prioritera det ofödda fostrets rättigheter. Till grund för dessa skilda lagstiftningar ligger bl.a. religiösa och kulturella olikheter, vilket ofta inbegriper mycket olika synsätt på den kvinnliga sexualiteten.

Denna uppsats syftar till att analysera Europadomstolens syn på den kvinnliga kroppen, i förhållande till den mänskliga reproduktionen, ur ett radikalfeministiskt perspektiv. För att genomföra analysen tillämpas primärt en diskursanalytisk metod. Utgångspunkten för diskursanalysen är att bl.a. rättssubjekten till stor del skapas genom de diskussioner som förs i rätten. Rätten behandlas därför inte som en objektiv sanning, men som en social konstruktion baserad på samhälleliga värderingar. Uppsatsens analysdel utgår från tre teorier presenterade av Catherine MacKinnon, Iris Young och Shulamith Firestone. Fokus för analysen är sex avgöranden från Europadomstolen som berör reproduktion. Fem av rättsfallen behandlar abort, medan återstående rättsfall behandlar rätten att inte bli genetisk förälder till följd av konstgjord befruktning.

Den diskursiva analysen visar att Europadomstolen intar en ambivalent inställning till den kvinnliga kroppen, som ges ett mycket relativt värde beroende av olika yttre omständigheter. Utifrån ett radikalfeministiskt perspektiv kan pekas på tre centrala diskurser i de sex rättsfallen. Dessa diskurser är Europadomstolens tveksamhet inför att diskutera abort i termer av kroppslig integritet, domstolens tendens att diskutera abort nästan uteslutande som en konflikt mellan modern och fostret samt domstolens tveksamhet inför att diskutera abort som en fråga som berör kvinnor som grupp. Europadomstolen diskuterar således sällan kvinnans fysiska och psykiska integritet med avseende på hennes kropp som sådan, men nästan uteslutande i förhållande till fostret, samhället och den allmänna moralen. Utifrån ett radikalfeministiskt perspektiv skulle dessa diskurser kunna tolkas som ett uttryck för samhällets maktutövning över kvinnan – detta då kvinnokroppen ofta beskrivs som en passiv konstruktion vars primära syfte är att säkra den mänskliga reproduktionen.

Om Europadomstolen, emellertid, skulle skifta fokus med avseende på abortfrågan till att behandla framför allt den kroppsliga integriteten, skulle detta medföra ett mycket kraftigt politiskt ställningstagande från domstolens sida. Med tanke på Europakonventionens subsidiära natur är det troligt att medlemsstaterna härmed skulle peka ut domstolens agerande som en eventuell kränkning av den folkrättsliga suveränitetsprincipen. Det återstår att ta ställning till om ett sådant kraftigt politiskt ställningstagande, i förhållande till kvinnans kroppsliga integritet, vore värt den risken. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Jägfeldt, Emelie LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Woman and the Fetus: A Discourse Analysis of the View of the European Court of Human Rights upon the Female Body
course
JURM02 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
European Court of Human Rights, Reproduction, Offentlig rätt, Abort, Foster, Reproduktion, Europadomstolen, Public law, Abortion, Fetus
language
Swedish
id
2594878
date added to LUP
2012-10-15 11:36:27
date last changed
2012-10-15 11:36:27
@misc{2594878,
  abstract     = {Women have performed abortions during all times. For most of history abortion, however, has been treated as a social taboo and was therefore illegal in most countries until the mid 1900’s. The sexual revolution during the 1960’s and 1970’s, combined with major scientific advances in the field of human reproduction, has come to play a critical role in a changed view of the role of women in society. At present, Europe occupies a highly fragmented approach to the abortion issue. Swedish and English abortion legislation is in this context very liberal in comparison with Irish and Polish abortion legislation, which tends to give priority to the rights of the unborn fetus. The basis for these different legislations is, amongst other things, religious and cultural differences building on very different views on female sexuality.

This thesis deals with analyzing the view of the European Court upon the female body, relative to the human reproduction, from a radical feminist point of view. In order to undertake this analysis, a discourse analysis method is primarily applied. The starting point for the discourse analysis is that, inter alia, legal entities are to a large extent created as a result of the discussions taking place in Court. The law in this context is not addressed as an objective truth, but as a social construction based on societal values. The thesis analysis is based on three theories as represented by Shulamith Firestone, Catherine MacKinnon and Iris Young. The focus of the analysis is sex rulings of the European Court concerning reproduction. Five of these Court cases deal with abortion, while the remaining case deals with the right not to become a parent as a result of artificial insemination.

The discourse analysis shows that the European Court occupies an ambivalent attitude towards the female body, which tends to be given a very relative value depending on various circumstances. From a radical feminist point of view, the analysis points to three key discourses in the six Court cases. These discourses are the Court’s reluctance to discuss abortion in terms of bodily integrity, the Court’s tendency to discuss abortion almost exclusively as a conflict between the mother and the fetus, and finally the Court’s reluctance to discuss abortion as an issue affecting women as a group. The European Court thus rarely chooses to discuss the woman’s physical and physiological integrity with respect to her body as such, but almost exclusively in relation to the fetus, the society and public morals. From a radical feminist point of view, these discourses could be interpreted as an expression of society’s domination over women – this since the female body is often described in terms of a passive construction, the primary purpose of which is to ensure human reproduction.

If the European Court, however, were to shift focus with respect to the abortion issue in order to address primarily the bodily integrity, the result would become a very powerful political statement by the Court. In view of the subsidiary nature of the European Convention, it is likely that the member states would hereby come to challenge the Court’s action as a possible violation of the international law principle of sovereignty. It remains to consider whether such a strong political statement, in relation to the woman’s bodily integrity, would be worth the risk.},
  author       = {Jägfeldt, Emelie},
  keyword      = {European Court of Human Rights,Reproduction,Offentlig rätt,Abort,Foster,Reproduktion,Europadomstolen,Public law,Abortion,Fetus},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Kvinnan och fostret: En diskursanalys av Europadomstolens syn på den kvinnliga kroppen},
  year         = {2012},
}