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Regulation of Abortion as State-Socialist Governmentality: The Case of Czechoslovakia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2012

Radka Dudova
Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences


In the countries of the former Eastern bloc (and the USSR), abortion politics followed a different historical path than in Western Europe. In Czechoslovakia, abortion was made legal relatively early on, almost as soon as the social and political turmoil that followed World War II and the communist coup in 1948 had settled. Unlike in Western Europe, however, it was not legalized in response to pressure from civil society or the feminist movement. It was a bureaucratic decision made in relation to specific macrosocial and political circumstances. The Czechoslovak Act on Artificial Termination of Pregnancy in 1957 made abortion legal on certain conditions. Special commissions were established and endowed with the authority to decide whether to grant women permission for abortion on demand. The decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy was thus not placed directly in the hands of women.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2012

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