Jessica Marcotte has been researching histories of abortion at the University of Western Australia as part of her doctoral research.
Volume 34, May 2016
Investigating the history of abortion is rife with shifting assumptions about what constitutes abortion, and even who determines pregnancy, as well as the contingencies of time and place and the ideological limits of recorded histories. Emerging from traditional herbal and dietary remedies to constituting illnesses like green sickness and hysteria, women’s knowledge and agency in controlling of their fertility through the use of abortifacients is notoriously underdeveloped. This article reports on some of the constraints of researching historical abortion practices, and also proposes that women’s knowledge of fertility control may have contributed to these constraints through a manufactured culture of ignorance: an agnotology of abortion.