Risk, Culture, and Health Inequality: Shifting Perceptions of Danger and Blame

By Barbara Herr Harthorn; Laury Oaks | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 4

The Politics of Health Risk Warnings:
Social Movements and Controversy over the Link
between Abortion and Breast Cancer

Laury Oaks


INTRODUCTION

This chapter examines controversy in the United States over antiabortion advocates' efforts to link abortion with another highly visible, politicized, and emotionally laden women's health issue: breast cancer. Drawing on scholarship that emphasizes the politics of risk perception, assessment, and communication, I analyze both how antiabortion activists have supported their claims and how women's health and abortion rights advocates have responded to antiabortion campaigns that publicize the putative “fact” that abortion increases a woman's risk of subsequently contracting breast cancer. Whether abortion and breast cancer are linked in this way has been labeled by some medical professionals as “one of the most controversial and important questions in women's health today” (Bartholomew and Grimes 1998:708) and identified by others as “scientifically complex and politically charged” (Gammon, Bertin, and Terry 1996).1 Health professionals and advocates who represent both sides of the abortion debate have analyzed evidence of the risk of breast cancer associated with abortion on both scientific and political terms. Controversy over antiabortion advocates' campaign to publicize the “scientific fact” that abortion increases a

I would like to thank Jo Murphy-Lawless, Jessica Jerome, and Francesca Bray for their
feedback on an early version of this chapter, which was presented at the 2000 American
Anthropological Association meetings. Talia Walsmith and Alena Donovan provided
valuable, detailed research assistance, and the Institute for Social, Economic, and Behav-
ioral Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, provided funding support.
The chapter has benefited enormously due to close readings of its several iterations by
Doug English and Barbara Herr Harthorn. I owe an abundance of thanks to Barbara,
whose vision and energy have sustained our collaborative work on this volume from its
inception as a conference panel to its completion as a book manuscript.

-79-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Risk, Culture, and Health Inequality: Shifting Perceptions of Danger and Blame
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 242

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?