Abortion Narratives and Reproductive Justice Post-Dobbs

deadline for submissions: 
September 2, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Survive and Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine

Submitted by: 

Survive and Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine 

In the wake of the 2022 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, individual abortion narratives have proliferated, both in the mass media and in groups advocating for reproductive rights and reproductive justice. For example, in a June 24, 2024, New York Times article, Kate Zernike cites a dramatic rise in the number of voters who have heard stories of pregnant people needing to cross state lines for abortion care. Many of these stories focus on wanted pregnancies gone tragically awry; as a result, Zernike argues that “The public conversation about abortion has grown into one about the complexities of pregnancy and reproduction.” In the words of a fellow at the Brookings Institution, one legacy of the Dobbs decision has been that Americans are being “exposed to a lengthy seminar on obstetrics” (qtd in Zernicke). For this special issue of Survive and Thrive, we invite reflections on and studies of the changing status of abortion stories in the wake of Dobbs, as well as their potential to add to better understandings of reproduction, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice (including issues like menstrual equity, contraceptive equity, fertility equity—such as access to assisted reproductive technology--, and birth and postpartum equity).

Medical humanities, as we have defined it in Survive and Thrive, insists on the integration of story and art into medical practice, the integration of medical insights into the creation of art and literature, and the integration of all parts of the human health experience (medical education, clinical practice, caregiving relationships in the home, public health, public policy, and more).  We hope to bring that spirit of integration into this special issue by inviting submissions that consider questions like the following:

  • How have abortion narratives and stories of reproductive rights changed in the wake of the Dobbs decision? Whose stories have become central in medical, activist, or popular narratives and whose stories are being silenced?

  • To what extent has the Dobbs decision impinged on the freedoms of health care professionals to advise patients of their options, to practice in safe spaces, and to share their own stories?

  • How might the post-Dobbs landscape contribute to better public understanding of contraception, ART, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care?

  • How will efforts to queer reproductive justice fare post-Dobbs?

  • What forms of activism are emerging in response to the Dobbs decision? Which are encouraging and which may be more troublesome? 

  • What effects might the decision have on access to fertility care and contraceptive access?

  • To what extent is the Dobbs decision, like challenges to gender-affirming care, simply the logical culmination of a longer “reproductive politics” (Briggs) and of conservative activism?

  • How have the Dobbs decision and attacks on transgender health clinics affected the well-being and safety of patients and practitioners?  

Looking Forward (and perhaps beyond) Dobbs

  • How might reproductive justice be institutionalized in academia and health care?

  • How have new technologies for visualizing pregnancy and the fetus affected birth equity?

  • How might literary and artistic works, whether contemporary or classic, give voice to a vision of reproductive justice?  

We welcome contributions from patients, health care providers, caregivers, parents, scholars, and activists, writing in genres from poem to scholarly treatise to video. We seek a diversity of voices:  urban, suburban, and rural; liberal and conservative; cis-gender, trans-gendered, gender-queer and non-conforming.   



-September 2 (Labor Day) 2024:  Deadline for Abstracts.  Authors who submit abstracts will receive early feedback and encouragement, if their work fits within the scope.

Submit to: Suzanne Black, Suzanne.Black@oneonta.edu & David Beard, DBeard@d.umn.edu 

- November 28 (Thanksgiving 2024):  Deadline for Completed Work.  You do not need to have submitted an abstract by September 2 to submit a full manuscript.

Submit to: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/

Summer 2025:  Projected Publication



"Submissions" may include text, video, audio, or image files that express the aims and scope of the journal. Submissions cannot have been previously published, nor be forthcoming in a journal or book (print or electronic). Please note that "publication" in a working-paper series does not constitute prior publication. If you have concerns about the submission terms for Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine, please contact the editors.

See: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/ 

A FEW SUGGESTED READINGS, in alphabetical order:

Briggs, Laura. (2018). How all politics became reproductive politics: From welfare reform to foreclosure to Trump. University of California Press. 

Frost, Erin, & Haas, Angela. (2017). Seeing and knowing the womb: A technofeminist reframing of fetal ultrasound toward a decolonization of our bodies. Computers and Composition, 43, 88–105. 

Johnson, Bethany L, Quinlan, Margaret M., & Pope, Nathan. (2020). “Sticky Baby Dust” and emoji social support on Instagram during in vitro fertilization. Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, 3(3), 320–349. 

Kemball, Anna. "Biocolonial pregnancies: Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God (2017)." Medical Humanities 48.2 (2022): 159-168.

Mamo, Laura. "Queering the fertility clinic." Journal of Medical Humanities 34.2 (2013): 227-239.

Molloy, Cathryn, Melonçon, Lisa, & Scott, J. Blake. (2020, June 17). Response to racial injustice. Rhetoricians of Health & Medicine. http://medicalrhetoric .com/rhms-racial-injustice-response

Novotny, Maria, et al. "Amplifying rhetorics of reproductive justice within rhetorics of health and medicine." Rhetoric of Health & Medicine 5.4 (2022): 374-402.

Novotny, Maria, De Hertogh, Lori Beth, & Frost, Erin. (2020). Rhetorics of reproductive justice in civic and public contexts. Reflections: A Journal of Community-Engaged Writing and Rhetoric, 20(2). 

Novotny, Maria & De Hertogh, Lori Beth. (2020). Rhetorics of self-disclosure: A feminist framework for infertility activism. In Jamie White-Farnham, Bryna Siegel Finer, & Cathryn Molloy (Eds.), Women’s health advocacy: Rhetorical ingenuity for the 21st  century (pp.  59–72). Philadelphia, PA: Routledge Press. 

Owens, Kimberly H. (2015). Writing childbirth: Women’s rhetorical agency in labor and online. Southern Illinois University Press. 

Ramirez, K.S. Reproductive justice must be considered in the scientific community. Nature Microbiology 7, 352–353 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-022-01077-0

Ross, Loretta, and Rickie Solinger. Reproductive justice: An introduction. Vol. 1. Univ of California Press, 2017.

Seigel, Marika. (2013). The rhetoric of pregnancy. University of Chicago Press. 

SisterSong. (n.d.). Reproductive Justice. https://www.sistersong.net 

Stobie, Caitlin E. "‘Creative Ferment’: abortion and reproductive agency in Bessie Head’s Personal Choices trilogy." Medical Humanities (2021).

T’Sjoen, G., Arcelus, J., Gooren, L., Klink, D. T., & Tangpricha, V. (2019). Endocrinology of transgender medicine. Endocrine Reviews, 40(1), 97–117. 

Turner, Jasmine. (2020, March 26). “What if you’re not there?”: Doulas advocate for parents during COVID-19 concerns. NBC12. https://www.nbc12.com /2020/03/26/what-if-youre-not-there-doulas-advocate-parents-during -covid-concerns/ 

White-Farnham, Jamie, Bryna Siegel Finer, and Cathryn Molloy, eds. Women's health advocacy: Rhetorical ingenuity for the 21st century. Routledge, 2019.

Yam, Sharon. Visualizing birth stories from the margin: Toward a reproductive justice model of rhetorical analysis. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 50(1), 19–34.

Zernike, Kate. Abortion Debate Shifts as Election Nears: “Now It’s About Pregnancy.” The New York Times, 24 June 2024. <https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/24/us/politics/abortion-roe-wade-pregnancy.html>.



Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine aims to provide opportunities for sharing research, artistic work, pedagogical dialogue, and the practices of medical humanities and narrative as medicine. One of the primary aims of the journal is to bring medical humanities and narrative medicine to patients, survivors, and caregivers. Its emphasis, therefore, is on patients and survivors and their needs, and while aware of and supporting professional medical education, the journal is most concerned with an audience broader than an academic audience. We encourage physicians and others in the medical profession to practice Narrative as Medicine by submitting their work, especially when it encourages them to be artists – visual, performance, and literary. The scope of the journal is eclectic in that it considers all the disciplines of medicine and the humanities while focusing on their relationship and the needs of survivors and patients.

Also see:https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/


Project co-edited by:

Suzanne Black, Suzanne.Black@oneonta.edu

David Beard, DBeard@d.umn.edu