When Abortion Is Banned: A Historic Account from Ceauşescu's Romania
CERS-Wende lecture by Gail Kligman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UCLA
Children presenting New Year's greetings to dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife.
Photo credit: Fototeca online a comunismului românesc, #BA225/1977
Sunday, January 29, 20232:00 PM - 4:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Under the rule of communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romanians were subjected to one of the world's harshest anti-abortion regimes. Since June 24, 2022, courtesy of the Supreme Court, an increasing number of American states have instituted similar and, in some instances, even harsher measures.
UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies (CERS) and the Wende Museum present the 2023 CERS-Wende lecture When Abortion Is Banned: A Historic Account from Ceauşescu’s Romania by Gail Kligman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UCLA. The event will take place at the Wende Museum on Sunday, January 29 at 2pm.
Under the rule of communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romanians were subjected to one of the world’s harshest anti-abortion regimes. From 1966 to 1989, abortion was illegal in almost all cases although certain exceptions were authorized. Maternal mortality rose dramatically; unable to raise yet another child, parents abandoned infants to orphanages where many were consigned to neglect and starvation; the secret police weaponized abortion and intruded into the intimate lives of Romanians of reproductive age. Since June 24, 2022, courtesy of the Supreme Court, an increasing number of American states have instituted similar and, in some instances, even harsher measures. Romania’s experience warns us about what happens when abortion is banned; when women cannot control their fertility, their physical and emotional well-being suffers, often with fatal consequences. Children may be left motherless or placed in state institutions. Surveilling women’s reproductive lives contributes to the creation of a culture of fear that erodes not only social relationships and sexual intimacy but also the broader society itself.
Gail Kligman is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UCLA. Her research has focused on historical-comparative issues, political culture, migration, and gender in Eastern Europe during the communist and post-communist periods. She has done extensive ethnographic research in Romania. Professor Kligman is the (co)author of six books, the most pertinent for this talk being The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceauşescu’s Romania (University of California Press 1998). Because of her work on this topic, she was invited in 2006 to participate in a Romanian Presidential Commission to assess the period of communist dictatorship. At UCLA, she served as the Associate Vice Provost of International Institute (2015-2019) and as the Director of the Center for European and Russian Studies (2005-2015).
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Related Document: 20230129_Kligman_poster-pb-xq2.pdf
Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Wende Museum