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Understanding adoption within abortion politics and provision

Gretchen Sisson, ANSIRH/University of California, San Francisco

Project abstract

Despite its rarity as a reproductive choice, adoption plays an outsized role in the politics of abortion. The anti-abortion movement has consistently promoted adoption as its preferred solution to unwanted pregnancy, and adoption has been framed as an area of common ground in the abortion debate. This paradigm has consequences for how adoption is understood on both cultural and individual levels, yet it remains under-examined.

I am seeking this Career Development Grant to study the role adoption plays in abortion politics and provision. For this grant, I will perform in-depth content analyses of how adoption is used rhetorically in politics and how it is understood in contrast with abortion by direct service providers. Using these data and my prior research on women’s experiences with adoption, I will develop a theoretical framework for contextualizing adoption as a reproductive choice, and make specific recommendations for how those involved in abortion care can consider the role of adoption in their work.

This new paradigm will not only strengthen the arguments of the abortion rights movement, but present ways of thinking about adoption that are accountable to women’s experiences. By completing legal coursework about family law and becoming an active member of the reproductive justice academic community, I will be able to present my findings in such a way to better inform policy, advocacy, and social change on this issue. This research and training will further my career goal of becoming a leading researcher on adoption in the fields of reproductive health and justice.


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