Francophobia, Anti-Americanism: Narratives of the Trans-Atlantic Other in French and U.S. News on Abortion-Related Issues

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This article examines the interplay of abortion and nationalism in French and U.S. print news discussions of abortion-related issues. U.S. news stories on RU-486 and French news stories on prolife direct action protesters are rife with qualifiers designating each issue as a foreign one. In American media, RU-486 is the French pill; in French media, protesters are American inspired/mobilized. Together, these cases constitute a site for the recurrent construction of the relation between nationhood, national identity, and moral goodness. In each case, media narratives of abortion-related issues reveal that more is at stake than reproductive rights issues. The authors argue that discourses on abortion are grounded in politics of nationalism that shore up the boundaries of the homeland and anchor the distinction between public and private spheres through a discourse of opposition to foreign cultural invaders. The articulation of moral conflict over abortion and myths of foreign origins situate the national collectivity as a good, innocent victim of corrupt outside influence.