The article analyses medical communication in popular media relating to the risks in reproduction in the state-socialist Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989 and shows how it used emotions as an instrument to control women’s reproductive behaviour. In particular, we use an approach inspired by Donati’s (1992) political discourse analysis and by Snow and Bedford’s (1988) framing analysis to explore communication on the risk of infertility in the abortion debate, the risk of fetal abnormalities in the prenatal screening debate, and the risk of emotional deprivation and morbidity in infants in the debate on mothering practices. The analysis contributes to the knowledge on how the construction of risk in reproduction, including childcare, serves to create a moral order of motherhood by defining what constitutes ‘irresponsible’ reproductive behaviours and their associated risks, and in doing so may lead to the further marginalisation of already marginalised people. We explain how expert discourse on reproduction and care aimed at the general public worked by constructing risks, a fear of these risks, and women’s responsibility for avoiding them in order to regulate women’s behaviour through self-discipline, which worked alongside other disciplinary techniques. These techniques were applied unequally and mainly to marginalised groups of women, such as women of Roma ethnicity and single mothers.
Article with impact factor
Dudová, Radka, Hašková, Hana. 2023. „Obedient mothers, healthy children: communication on the risks of reproduction in state-socialist Czechoslovakia.“ Medical Humanities 49 (2): 225-235. Available from: https://mh.bmj.com/content/49/2/225.long.