The Cairns abortion trial : deviance, stigma and the spoiled identity

Evans, Brodie & O'Brien, Erin (2013) The Cairns abortion trial : deviance, stigma and the spoiled identity. In Richards, Kelly & Tauri, Juan Marcellus (Eds.) Crime Justice and Social Democracy : Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 58-66.

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In 2010 a couple in Cairns were charged, and later found not guilty, of illegally obtaining a medical abortion through the use of medication imported from overseas. The court case reignited the contentious debate surrounding the illegality and social acceptance of abortion in Queensland, Australia. Based on a critical discourse analysis of 150 online news media articles covering the Cairns trial, this paper argues that the media shapes perceptions of deviance and stigma in relation to abortion through the use of language. In this case, the Cairns couple were positioned as deviant for pursuing abortion on the basis that they were rejecting the social norm of motherhood. This paper identifies three key themes evident in the articles analysed which contribute to shaping the construction of deviance – the humanising of the foetus, the stereotyping of the traditional female role of mother, and the demonising of women who choose abortion. This paper argues that the use of specific language in media coverage of abortion has the power to disrespect and invalidate the experiences, rights, and health of women who choose to terminate pregnancies.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 62721
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: abortion, media, deviance, Cairns trial
ISBN: 9780987467843
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Crime and Justice Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2013 22:26
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2013 01:02

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