Rise of post-truth populism – Ewen Speed & Russell Mannion

Speed, E. & Mannion, R. (2017). The rise of post-truth populism in pluralist liberal democracies: Challenges for health policy. International Journal of Health Policy Management, 6(5), 249-251. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2017.19.

Definitions of “cultural backlash thesis” and “economic inequality thesis.” Cites a study of 31 European countries finding support for the “cultural backlash thesis.” Populism is “…[vague]…as a concept and as a political strategy” (249). Explains the importance of the leader in populism, and the ways in which leader wields power.

Implications for health policy: nativism in populism lessens global movement and access to health resources. discrimination “exacerbates existing national (and global) health inequalities” (250). Because populist leaders want swift reform, this lessens the likelihood that policy will be good, vetted, and supported by the masses. Instead, “populist policies tend to be shaped more by the personal whims and prejudices of a demagogue than underpinned by a secure evidence base” (250). This is reminiscent of Aydin-Düzgit and Keyman’s discussions on the ways in which populist policy may lack fact.

Speed & Mannion continue, discussing the ways in with “post-truth” policies may negatively effect health policy. Cites conscience laws and health tourism (reminding me of the recent UK policy changes allowing women from North Ireland to obtain abortions in England for free). Defines post-truth by citing Oxford dictionary definition. In populist post-truth politics, “…feelings and emotions often [carry] more weight than facts and evidence” (250) and dominant motifs (not necessarily based on evidence) may be repeated in order to get people to believe them. Here, I am thinking about the anti-choice protesters who try to coerce patients at the clinic where I volunteer into not getting an abortion by telling them the abortion can cause cancer, infertility, mental/emotional trauma, and will likely end their romantic relationship (if they are in one) and damage their other interpersonal relationships. These “facts” are not based on evidence or on science, but the protesters believe them, and most patients do not know that these things are not factual.

They argue that avenues for involvement in public affairs must be created that are participatory and that use today’s technology.


Incorporating Intersectionality in Research About WOC & Reproduction – Kimala Price

Price, K. (2011). It’s not just about abortion: Incorporating intersectionality in research about women of color and reproduction. Women’s Health Issues, 21(3S), S55-S57. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.02.003

Price argues that intersectionality should be a more central component of the research process, or methodologic approach, rather than something applied at the last minute. “We need to think of intersectionality at every stage of the process when designing a research project” (S56).

Intersectionality is especially important in research projects on reproductive health. Price discusses the ways in which many women of color do not identity with mainstream “pro-choice” discourses or organizations. “…the choice rhetoric is almost meaningless to them” (S56). S56 includes a strong definition of reproductive justice vs “pro-choice.” We must contextualize these discourses with socio-cultural history and knowledge.

This article is useful for me as I look forward to research projects in the future, perhaps the dissertation, in which I will be identifying participants, constructing research and interview questions, etc. It is also a reminder to ensure the sources from which I am gaining my information are inclusive of people with varying identities, not just white women.

Nepal’s Abortion Legalisation – Grant Miller, et al.

**Check on correct citation**

Miller, G., Valente, C., Miller, E. (2016). Insights from Nepal’s abortion legalisation. International Growth Centre.


This article included several useful facts/statistics regarding abortion world-wide, and in Nepal. The authors find that since the legalization of abortion in Nepal in 2002, abortion clinics in Nepal rose from 141 in 2006 to 291 in 2010. Further, the authors find that while the usage of  modern contraception rose steadily from the 1970s-the early 2000s, the years in which abortion was legal. However, after abortion legalization contraception usage plateaued. Using regional data indicating the number of abortion clinics per districts, Miller, et al. conjecture that the cause of plateauing contraception use is abortion. Women in regions where abortion-providing centers are plentiful, they argue, substitute abortion for contraception. “We do find evidence that abortion and modern contraception are substitutes for one another.”  The authors suggest that in order to reduce unsafe abortions, contraception should be more easily accessible (monetarily and without social stigma).

It does not seem as though the authors have dealt with their data critically enough. Sure, they find a correlation between the availability of abortion services and contraceptive usage. However, arguing that women in districts with more accessible abortion clinics substitute abortion for contraception lacks context. Other explanations for the relationship they find in the data could be that women in districts without many abortion clinics have more access to contraception through crisis pregnancy center-esque clinics or other health centers that do not provide abortion. There is likely a socioeconomic and/or socio-cultural influence that is being overlooked.  I find this article useful, but the major argument lacks context from other sources their data do not control for.


Qual Study in Istanbul – Katrina A. Macfarlane, et al.

MacFarlane, K.A., O’Neil, M.L., Tekdemir, D., & Foster, A.M. (2017). “It was as if society didn’t want a woman to get an abortion”: A qualitative study in Istanbul, Turkey. Contraception, 95, 154-160.


This article points to the strength of narrative work in studying abortion. Allowing their participants voices to speak to their own experiences, this article shines light on many struggles people in turkey go through in obtaining abortion care. Many of these struggles correlate to those faced by people in both the United States and Poland (Zuk & Zuk, 2017). One particularly interesting finding discussed in this study is that many of the participants who obtained their abortion in public clinics cited negative experiences due to the clinicians’ perpetuation of abortion stigma. Also, the study makes the connection between Turkish society’s views on women having premarital sex and their need not to be pregnant out of wedlock. This pregnancy paradox (where a woman is stigmatized for either being pregnant in societally unacceptable circumstances or ending the pregnancy) was discussed by several participants.

The article also includes very useful information related to the availability of abortion in Turkey and general facts/statistics regarding maternity and abortion. One striking statistic is that 53% of all maternal deaths in Turkey were due to unsafe/illegal abortion by 1959. After abortion was legalized, however, the number of maternal deaths dropped from 251 per 100,000 live births (in 1980) to 121 per 100,000 (in 1990).

Trump, populism, global context – Zenem Aydin-Düzgit & E. Fuat Keyman

*Need to check how to cite this source properly, not a journal article.*

The Trump presidency and the rise of populism in the global context. Aydin Düzgit & E. Fuat Keyman. January 2017.

This article was extremely helpful for understanding the definition and characteristics of populism. Charting the election of Trump in the U.S. and the Brexit referendum as examples, the article argues that “populism today emerges as a part of a new broader global political economic reality that cuts across geographic, economic, and political boundaries” (p. 3).

Populism by definition considers society as being broken into two parts: the “elites” and the “people.” Populist leaders claim to be of and for the people, pushing back against the elites or the establishment. The defining characteristics of populism are 1) anti-establishment; 2) authoritarianism; 3) nativism. When reading these characteristics, I wondered, As defined in this article, is the effect of populism on reproductive healthcare policy? In what ways does this render the pro-life/anti-choice dichotomy particularly insufficient? How does an anti-authoritarian approach to activism around reproductive healthcare/abortion ameliorate this insufficiency? I was also thinking about the ways in which the three aforementioned characteristics of populism overlap and intersect to further marginalize people. Because of this, it is evermore important for reproductive healthcare access to be intersectional–if the activism cannot attend to each of these characteristics, it will be ineffective. This reminds me of the articles on coalition-building (Breton, et al.; Carastathis, 2013; Cole, 2008). The article also discusses popular theorizations in regards to the rise of global populism, particularly the “cultural backlash thesis” and the “economic fears” thesis.

Conscientious objection, abortion, Europe – Anna Heino, et. al

Heino, A., Gissler, M., Apter, D., & Fila, C. (2013). Conscientious objection and induced abortion in Europe. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18. 231-233. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2013.819848.

This article is a very concise primer on the debate and current state of conscientious objection (CO) as it pertains to abortion care in Europe. Generally, the problem CO presents as it pertains to abortion care is that it can leave entire regions without access to a physician who will perform abortions. Notably, “CO puts women in an unequal position depending on their place of residence, socioeconomic status, income, and their ability to travel long distances to access a service to which they are legally entitled” (232). I saw many connections between lack of access caused by CO in Europe to lack of access caused by TRAP laws in the U.S. Overall, this article helps me to understand the ways in which CO is dangerous to women seeking abortion care and/or makes abortion services inaccessible.

Women’s health ideological & political issue – Piotr Zuk & Pawel Zuk

Zuk, P. & Zuk, P. (2017). Women’s health as an ideological and political issue: Restricting the right to abortion, access to in vitro fertilization procedures, and prenatal testing in Poland. Health Care for Women International, 38(7), 689-704. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2017.1322595


This article illustrates the ways in which conservative religious ideology can be politicized and weaponized to limit reproductive rights. Detailing the evolution (or devolution) of access to reproductive health services in Poland, many connections can be made to the current state and perhaps the future of reproductive healthcare access in the United States.

I was interested in the “discourses of power” (690) utilized by the religious and conservative interest groups mentioned throughout the article. Particularly, the ways in which particular rhetorics are used to demonize any reproductive health service, not just abortion. Using phrases like “culture of death” (contrasted by the phrase “civilization of life”) and “gender ideology,” these conservative forces construct a moral good and evil. In thinking about readings on populism, it’s easy to see how this type of rhetoric can be wielded by populist regimes. The article states that “proposals that promote women’s rights are treated almost as if they would result in a loss of national identity.”  Thus again, women’s reproductive healthcare has been politicized in a way that can be used to further a conservative populist agenda (RE: Aysin-Düzgit & Keyman’s characteristics of populism).

This article also provides an interesting perspective to the issues that “conflicts of consciousness” pose to reproductive healthcare as discussed by Heino, Gissler, Apter, and Fiala (2013).

Feminisms, Anarchism, Quebec – Breton, Emile, et al.

Breton, E., Jeppsen, S., Kruzynski, A., & Sarrasin, R. (2012). Feminisms at the heart of contemporary anarchism in Quebec: Grassroots practices of intersectionality.  Canadian Woman Studies, 29(3), 147-159.