The Myth of Maternal Instinct and How It Remains the Key Threat to Abortion Rights

  • Monica Cardenas (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Are women's rights limited by our beliefs about maternal instinct? Abortion rights in the U.S. have been under threat for decades, perhaps never more so than today. Pro-life advocates argue that abortion is murder, but I argue their true motivation is rooted in the long-held fallacy of maternal instinct – an instinct I will disprove. Using historical legal markers since the 1960s, I will chart the progression of women’s right to control fertility, and the subsequent representation of motherhood in three novels over the same period of time: The Bell Jar, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Patron Saint of Liars. My own novel will contribute to this body of work, which demonstrates the danger of a society that seizes control over women’s fertility. My research will show that belief in the maternal instinct establishes a mandate for motherhood. A woman’s right to abort – and consequently her freedom in general – will be at risk until the myth of maternal instinct is dispelled.
Period25 Apr 2019
Event titleRoyal Holloway English PGR Easter Colloquium
Event typeConference