Valerie Hartouni's Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the PDF

By Valerie Hartouni

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Women's alleged "illiteracy" in matters of the heart has been the focus of much anxious public attention. "37 The images, not to mention the rhetoric, have been powerful and, on some level, clearly persuasive. 38 Several months later, "profamily" activists claimed their first victory with the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. Underpinning Reagan's otherwise forgettable reading of the troubled economy and at the center of antiERA ideology sat the assumption that a woman's essential identity could be fully realized only in the home, as housewife and mother.

Indeed, the stakes are considerable for firmly distinguishing between what Impaired Sight or Partial Vision? 30 But consider, with respect now specifically to new reproductive practices and processes, what a recent special issue of the Western Journal of Medicine characterizes as an "important change in outlook" among physicians in the rapidly expanding field of fetal medicine and reproductive genetics. "36 "Correct the environment"? 37 The fetus is clearly personified, perceived, presented, and produced as a person who has simply been awaiting discovery or awaiting the development of the right optical instruments for its true nature to be fully revealed and appre- 24 / Impaired Sight or Partial Vision?

49 Early in the decade, there "emerges" a "condition" from which it is said an ever-increasing number of women are suffering—a condition that comes to be known as postabortion stress syndrome. By the decade's end, so pervasive will this "condition" appear to have become that Surgeon General C. Everett Koop will recommend committing up to $100 million for its research50—a move that mystifies by medicalizing Containing Women I 43 what seems clearly a "discourse-generated" malady, the spread of which is attributable less to the recovery of lost identity than to the alleged "discoveries" of peering technologies, the public proliferation of arresting representations of fetal life, and the equally arresting representations of women taking that life capriciously, casually, and selfishly.

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