112 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1417 (2017-2018)
Challenging the Rhetorical Gag and Trap: Reproductive Capacities, Rights, and the Helms Amendment

handle is hein.journals/illlr112 and id is 1473 raw text is: 



Copyright 2018 by Michele Goodwin                          Printed in U.S.A.
                                                           Vol. 112, No. 6


CHALLENGING THE RHETORICAL GAG AND TRAP:
      REPRODUCTIVE CAPACITIES, RIGHTS, AND
      THE   HELMS AMENDMENT

                                                  Michele  Goodwin


ABSTRACT-This Essay argues that the   battle over women's autonomy,
especially their reproductive healthcare and decision-making, has always
been about much  more  than simply women's  health and safety. Rather,
upholding patriarchy and dominion over women's reproduction historically
served political purposes and entrenched social and cultural norms that
framed women's   capacities almost exclusively as service to a husband,
mothering, reproducing, and sexual chattel. In turn, such social norms-
often enforced by statutes and legal opinions-took root in rhetoric rather
than the realities of women's humanity, experiences, capacities, autonomy,
and lived lives. As such, law created legal fictions about women and their
supposed lack of intellectual and social capacities. Law trapped women to
the destinies courts and legislatures aspired for them and continues to do so.
This Essay turns to the less engaged international sphere and the copious
Congressional Record to unpack how the Helms Amendment  and later, the
Mexico  City Policy (or Global Gag  Rule), emerged from  this type of
lawmaking. This Essay shows how these harmful dictates on women's lives
and bodies in developing nations result in a deadly rise of illegal abortions,
criminal punishments, stigmatization, and sadly, deaths.

AUTHOR-Chancellor's Professor and Director of the Center for
Biotechnology &  Global Health Policy, University of California, Irvine. I
am  grateful for the research assistance of Mariah Lindsay and Julia Jones.
Special appreciation to the Northwestern University Law Review for its
attention to law, society, and empirical study in law, particularly on the
thirtieth anniversary of McCleskey v. Kemp and, for purposes of this Essay
and research, the forty-fifth anniversary of the Helms Amendment.


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