PATHOLOGICAL PREGNANCIES: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ASSAULT ON MIGRANT WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND HOW BROWN WOMEN ACTIVISTS SPOKE BACK TO POWER
de Saint Felix, Skye
Parry-Giles, Shawn J.
MetadataShow full item record
Abortion and immigration are two polarizing political issues in the United States. These issues were made more contentious under the Trump administration (2017-2021) that tapped into cultural and historical memories of abortion as a pathological practice. Situated at the intersection of abortion and immigration rights, migrant women’s reproduction was treated as something to be monitored and controlled to preserve white patriarchal interests. The Trump administration capitalized on the racist and sexist tenets inherent to rhetorical pathology to construct an enemy in migrant women that only his administration was qualified to neutralize through deportation, arrest, and extreme legislation. Rhetorical pathology, in the context of anti-abortion and anti-migrant policies, resulted in contradictory commitments. For instance, the Trump administration and his supporters at once humanized the fetus, but dehumanized Brown women and children by blocking them from entering the country and accessing basic needs. Administrative officials also argued that their anti-abortion platform prevented racial genocide by saving Black and Brown babies while they treated them as enemy threats to be purged from the country. I ultimately argue that white supremacy and patriarchy are unifying ideologies in rhetorical pathology that help these contradictions “make sense” for Trump supporters and anti-abortion groups. In Chapter One, I examine the Trump administration’s efforts to force birth and block paths to citizenship for migrant girls by studying the case of Jane Doe and the abuses she faced in the Office of Refugee Resettlement Custody (ORR). In Chapter Two, I investigate how white supremacists and misogynists co-opted progressive rhetoric to undermine its force by analyzing Trump’s policies that heavily regulated migrant women’s reproduction. Such cruel and unconscionable actions included reinstating (and expanding) the Global Gag Rule and passing “conscience” legislation that allows healthcare providers to discriminate against healthcare they deem “immoral” like abortion care or emergency contraceptives. In this chapter, we also see how conservatives inverted progressive frames like “Black Lives Matter” to argue that “Babies Lives Matter” to fulfill an anti-choice agenda and describe themselves as abolitionists and saviors of Brown children. In Chapter Three, I show the ways in which Brown women activists reappropriated the rhetorical power that conservatives mimicked to justify their inhumane policies. Activist women reclaimed their rhetorical power of definition, shared stories of both horror and community uplift, and used rhetorical secrecy to combat rhetorical pathologizations. Legislation in support of migrant women emphasized healing and care to undermine the rhetorics of pathology. This project ultimately exposes how rhetorical pathology operates in order to neutralize its power and center the voices and experiences of migrant women in abortion and immigration debates.