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Reproducing Timely Subjects with Periodic AbortionLaw: Calendaring, Punctuating, Anticipating

Seminar: Conversations on Social Reproduction

Speaker: Ruth Fletcher, Queen Mary University of London

When: Friday 12 January 2024, 12pm - 1pm (GMT)/ 5.30pm - 6.30pm (IST)

Where: Online on MS Teams

Synopsis: Periodic abortion law materialises women and pregnant people as timely reproductive subjects, as those who may make themselves free of gestational labour, if they keep to time. Taking a feminist social reproduction perspective, which criticises and challenges capitalist exploitation of care labour time, I show how abortion law brings a planned and timely reproductive subject into being at the individual level, while differentiating and stratifying gestational labourers. The paper identifies three moves – calendaring,punctuating, anticipating - in the legal reproduction of time for capitalist social reproduction. It does this by drawing out the significance of Ireland’s 2018 adoption of a periodic abortion law, one that legalised abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and on exceptional grounds thereafter. By witnessing how these moves need material reproductive processes to progress, including those named by civil society actors during legal struggle, I build concepts for theorizing how gestational labour time is legally reproduced and may be reproduced otherwise.

Seminar speaker: Ruth Fletcher is a Reader in Law at Queen Mary University of London. Her research lies at the intersection of legal humanities and socio-legal studies in taking a critical feminist interdisciplinary approach to the relationship between legal form and life’s reproduction. In 2022 she was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on Ordering Time: Periodic abortion law, gestational labour and reproductive justice. Ruth’s previous roles and projects have included editing Feminist Legal Studies, co-leadership of the AHRC International Network on ReValuing Care, co-directorship of the AHRC Research Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality, and a long history of participation, inside and outside the university, in the reproductive rights movement in Ireland and elsewhere.

The Laws of Social Reproduction project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme (under grant agreement No. 772946).

For more information about the project, please email

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Prabha Kotiswaran

Professor of Law & Social Justice

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