This essay examines narratives of early miscarriage in the contexts of the history of the medicalization of pregnancy and abortion politics. It argues that the significance of early miscarriage has increased with the medicalization of pregnancy but expressions of this significance have been thwarted by a number of discursive conditions. Many women's accounts of miscarriage attest to the absence of familiar language that is specific to the contours of this experience of loss. In its place is language appropriate to the death scene, the language of failure, or the explicit struggle to find vocabulary to describe the loss. Often the effect of this discursive gap is testimony that blurs the distinction between fetus and baby. While my research suggests that many women giving their testimonies were not engaged with the discursive effects of this on abortion politics, those who were felt themselves to be in a quandary with few resources for resolving the tensions they felt between the depth of their miscarriage grief and their pro-choice politics. In 2005, an Australian parliament passed legislation in response to cases of women miscarrying pregnancies as a result of violence inflicted on them by third parties. This legislative response offers a conceptual framework for miscarriage that both recognizes the profound sense of loss that can be experienced in its aftermath while explicitly protecting the right to abortion.

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