The latent manifest : Roe v. Wade and the rhetoric of maternal citizenship.


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This thesis investigates how Roe v. Wade restricts the capacity of woman’s citizenship through the entrenched connection between woman and mother. I begin with a brief overview of scholarly treatments of citizenship, identity, and gender in rhetorical criticism. While rhetorical critics have attended to citizenship in the nineteenth century through analysis of the gendered public and private domains, little attention has been given to the ways ideologies of domesticity and motherhood affect constructions of woman’s citizenship in contemporary contexts of abortion. To correct for this omission, I extend the analytical frame of gendered rhetorical citizenship to the Roe decision. Specifically, I unpack Roe’s predication on privacy, which I divide into three rhetorical strategies: conceptions of harm, potential life, and a deference for medical judgment. Thus, I demonstrate how Roe’s perpetuation of ideological associations of woman and mother constrains woman’s citizenship and complicates the already precarious position of contemporary abortion rights.



Abortion. Woman's citizenship. Roe v. Wade. Privacy.