Fran Amery

Abortion politics in the UK: Feminism, medicine and the state

Supervisors: Nicki Smith and Stephen Bates

My thesis explores political (and in particular, Parliamentary) debates over abortion legislation. Specifically, I am interested in how notions of women’s rights and women’s interests are expressed and defended in these debates, and the intersection of these with complementary and competing notions of rights and responsibilities. I am also interested in how the roles of the state and medical profession in managing and regulating abortion have been conceptualised in these debates, and how this has shaped the form that abortion legislation has taken. The research has involved extensive documentary analysis of parliamentary debates and policy documents alongside interviews with leading figures in Parliamentary debates.


I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham (2006-2009) before starting an ESRC-funded 1+3 PhD in 2009


  • BA (First Class) Anthropology and Political Science (Hons) University of Birmingham
  • MA (Distinction) Political Science (Research Methods) University of Birmingham

Research interests

  • British politics
  • Feminism and gender
  • Biopolitics
  • The politics of healthcare

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • PSA Women and Politics Specialist Group
  • ECPR Gender and Politics Standing Group

Teaching responsibilities

  • 2012-2013 Political Analysis (POLS201)
  • 2010-2012 Foundations of Politics (POLS101)

Conference papers

‘Resonance, radicalism and compromise: a discursive approach to state feminism’, 63rd Political Studies Association Annual International Conference, Cardiff City Hall, 26th March 2013

‘Background: assessing the political climate’, Beyond the Rights & Wrongs of Abortion: Access as a Question of Reproductive Justice, University of Birmingham, 21st March 2013

‘Researching gendered discourse in policy debates: the case of abortion legislation’, Doing Gender Research workshop, University of Bristol, 2nd March 2013

‘(De)politicisation and the Father’s Clause parliamentary debates’, (De)Politicisation: What's in a Name? Reflections on (Anti)Politics in Times of Crisis, University of Warwick, 14th September 2012

‘Feminist framing and political expediency: ‘Acting for’ women in parliamentary debates over abortion’, PSA Women & Politics Group Conference, University of the West of England, 18th February 2012

‘“The foetal dustbin of Europe”: discursive struggles over British abortion policy’, ECPR General Conference, University of Iceland, 27th August 2011

In addition, I have frequently presented papers at University of Birmingham postgraduate colloquia and weekly seminars.


Amery, F. (2013) ‘Social questions, medical answers: Contesting British abortion law’, Social Politics,advanced access. First published online: April 21, 2013.