The mind is a brittle object. The abortion law and therapeutic legitimation

Ole Jacob Madsen har sammen med Merethe Flatseth skrevet en artikkel i History of the Human Sciences


This article takes a historical look at abortion in Norway, especially the parliamentary debates and the legislation on selective abortion. By using metaphor theory and discourse analysis we disclose that mental health issues came into practice as a legitimate cause for selective abortion for women in Norway from the 1960s and recur in more recent debates about important amendments in 1996 and 2003. In order to abort, women must simultaneously adopt a psychological means of self-representation. The history of the discourse on selective abortion in Norway thus illustrates the often ambiguous relationship between reproductive policy and ‘psy’. The analysis also shows that a therapeutic discourse today creates a framework of meaning for all political parties in Norway in the questions regarding abortion, including the Christian Democratic Party traditionally committed to religious motifs. This particular part of the history of abortion in Norway suggests that the psy-sciences and a therapeutic outlook on the self and society came into being in Norway from the 1960s, marking a defining moral shift from the previous religious and moral reasoning to a therapeutic ethos.

History of the Human Sciences, 2013, 26 (1), 111–127

Published Feb. 26, 2013 9:00 AM