Sophie's choice: Narratives of ‘saving’ in British public debates on abortion

Pam Lowe, Sarah-Jane Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the UK, narratives about saved women and babies have been a significant feature in anti-abortion campaigns to oppose bufferzones, which seek to prevent anti-abortion activists from being directly outside abortion clinics. Anti-abortion activists argue that without their presence, the ‘abortion industry’ will fail to seek ‘informed’ consent and coerce women into abortions. These presumptions are based on positioning abortion, and service providers, as inherently ‘evil’, whilst saving is rooted in Christian beliefs aimed at ensuring that souls go to heaven.

This paper emerges from ethnographic research in Britain on anti-abortion activism and pro-choice counter-demonstrations. Highlighting the importance of saving in many of the anti-abortion campaigns, it will argue that as they have a different conceptualisations of harm to pro-choice activists, this leads to a lack of understanding of each other's saving narrative. Yet to some extent they both draw on a positioning of women as potentially vulnerable and at risk from the actions of others.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102332
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • abortion
  • activism
  • saving
  • bufferzones


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