not surprising to find that Sweden's model of liberal abortion and maternal welfare policy creates the widest range of access and support for abortion and maternal welfare.

Vogel (1993) argues that feminists "are often frustrated by the absence in the United States of a social welfare system committed to comprehensive support for the needs of women and families" (Vogel 1993).  Vogel attributes the lack of extensive maternal welfare policies similar to those in Western Europe by pointing to the "ideologies of individualism and liberty conceived of as freedom from state interference[...] Policy deliberations have rejected universalistic conceptualizations that posit a linkage between citizens' needs, state responsibility, and the collective social good" (Vogel 1993).  The absence of liberal abortion and maternal welfare policies, however, does not increase freedom for poor and working-class women; rather they create constraints.

Presently, most countries in the Western world have policies that provide to women with low socioeconomic status viable reproductive health options. Rudy (1996) argues that:

Securing a legal right to abortion is not enough; the convictions associated with caring compel us to work for the social, emotional, and material conditions whereby a woman can choose either an abortion or a baby.  In order to place power and authority back in the hands of women, we must work to make abortions available to all women, regardless of poverty, inconvenience, or isolation.  We must also work to provide women with adequate resources and circumstances so that she may have that baby if she chooses.

By limiting the choices available to poor and working-class women faced with unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, nations perpetuate the patriarchal circumscription of women to the domestic sphere.  Patriarchal norms have persisted more forcefully in countries where choice is most constrained by abortion and maternal welfare policy.  Concerning the reproductive choices of women, nations need liberal abortion and maternal welfare policies if they are to create the conditions whereby women from all socioeconomic strata are able to choose to terminate their pregnancy or carry it to term.

Works Cited

Abortion Policies: A Global Review. Vol. II and III. United Nations Publication, 1993.


Cousins, Mel. The Irish Social WelfareSystem: Law and Social Policy. Portland, OR: The Round Hall Press Ltd., 1995.

Eggert, Anna, and Bill Rolston, eds. Abortion In The New Europe: A Comparative Handbook. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Githens, Marianne, and Dorothy McBride Stetson, eds. Abortion Politics: Public Policy In Cross- Cultural Perspective. New York, NY: Routledge, Inc., 1996.

Glendon, Mary Ann. Abortion and Divorce in Western Law: American Failures, European Challenges. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Golonka, Susan, Elaine Ryan, and Sheri Steisel. "Welfare Reform Analysis." American Public Welfare Association. Internet. 1996. Available: analysis.htm.

Hadley, Janet. Abortion Between Freedom and Necessity. London, England: Virago Press, 1996.

Josephson, Jyl. "Public Policy as if Women Mattered: Improving the Child Support System for Women on AFDC." Women & Politics 17:1 (1997): 1-26.

Koven, Seth and Sonya Michel, eds. Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States. New York, NY: Routledge, Inc., 1993.

Marcus, Richard. Family and Medical Leave Policies and Procedures. New York, NY: Wiley Law Publications, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994.

Ross, John, W. Parker Maudlin, and Vincent Miller. Family Planning and Population: a Compendium of International Statistics. New York, NY: The Population Council Inc., 1993.

Rudy, Kathy. Beyond Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: Moral Diversity in the Abortion Debate. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1996.

Segalman, Ralph. The Swiss Way of Welfare: Lessons for the Western World. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers, 1986.

Tolstoy, Leo. Resurrection. London, 1899.

Vogel, Lise. Mothers on the Job: Maternity Policy in the U.S. Workplace. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993.

Wetstein, Matthew E. Abortion Rates in the United States, The Influence of Opinion and Policy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, Albany, 1996.

back.gif (287 bytes)


Page 8


Johanna Wilson - Women's Choices in the Western World: A... [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]