Happy Abortions

Our Bodies in the Era of Choice

Erica Millar


A radical reinterpretation of women’s freedom and an indispensable intervention into scholarship on abortion and reproductive rights.

‘A provocative and important book that every pro-choice advocate should read.’
Sinéad Kennedy, Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment

When it comes to abortion, today’s liberal climate has produced a common sense that is both pro-choice and anti-abortion. The public are fed an unchanging version of what the abortion choice entails and how women experience it. While it would prove highly unpopular to insist that all pregnant women should carry their pregnancy to term, the idea that abortion could or should be a happy experience for women is virtually unspeakable.

In this careful and intelligent work, Erica Millar shows how the emotions of abortion are constructed in sharp contrast to the emotional position occupied by motherhood – the unassailable placeholder for women’s happiness. Through an exposition of the cultural and political forces that continue to influence the decisions women make about their pregnancies – forces that are synonymous with the rhetoric of choice – Millar argues for a radical reinterpretation of women’s freedom.

Author Bio

Dr Erica Millar’s work focuses on the regulation of gendered subjects in late modernity, with her recent work examining the history and governance of abortion. She is a lecturer in Gender Studies and Sociology at The University of Adelaide. Previous to her appointment the The University of Adelaide she taught across the departments of gender studies, law & justice, and history at the universities of Melbourne, La Trobe and Deakin.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: An Emotional Choice
  • 1. The Politics of Choice
  • 2. Happy Choices
  • 3. The Grief of Choice
  • 4. Shameful Choices
  • 5. The Nation’s Choice?
  • Conclusion: A Viable Abortion


‘The meanings ascribed by society to women’s reproductive decisions do not necessarily portray our actual emotions. Erica’s book celebrates that abortion, like childbirth, can be a joyful experience when achieving reproductive justice through human rights.’
Loretta Ross, co-founder, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

‘An exciting and unique addition to the literature on reproductive choice. It challenges the framing of abortion across the political spectrum and throughout the modern world, and forces a reappraisal of our thinking. Furthermore – it’s a darn good read!’
Ann Furedi, Chief Executive, British Pregnancy Advisory Service

‘A provocative and important book that every pro-choice advocate should read. Millar reminds us that abortion is a normal fact of life and a social good. This shouldn’t be a radical claim but, in a world where abortions rights are under attack, it is.’
Sinéad Kennedy, Secretary, Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment (Ireland)

‘An important contribution to the literature on abortion. Millar’s evocative book critically examines political and movement discourses, with attention to gender, race, class, and nation, exposing the anti-abortion framings that permeate all sides of the debate.’
Katrina Kimport, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, UCSF

‘This compelling dissection of the emotional common sense of abortion offers a crucial step towards rejecting the "awfulization” of abortion. Ending a pregnancy is revealed for what it has always been: an inevitable and normal part of women's lives.’
Sally Sheldon, Kent University

‘In this thoughtful and well-written book, Erica Millar deconstructs the emotional discourses surrounding abortion. A sophisticated and timely work that should be essential reading for all those interested or working in the area of abortion, as well as activists and academics.’
Pam Lowe, Aston University

‘Offers a carefully crafted bundle of feminist ideas that enable new insights into the politics of choice. Invaluable reading for students, scholars, and abortion activists seeking to deploy feminist analysis in service of the urgent need to enable and improve access to abortion for all who need it.’
Barbara Baird, Flinders University


Publication Date: 15 December 2017
348 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786991300
Hardback: 9781786991317
eBook ePub: 9781786991331
eBook PDF: 9781786991324
eBook Kindle: 9781786991348

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