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Source
Soc Sci Med. 1996 Feb;42(4):495-508
Publication Type
Article
Date
Feb-1996
Author
E J Sobo
Author Affiliation
Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, England.
Source
Soc Sci Med. 1996 Feb;42(4):495-508
Date
Feb-1996
Language
English
Publication Type
Article
Keywords
Abortion, Criminal
Abortion, Induced
Female
Humans
Infant, Newborn
Jamaica
Medicine, Traditional
Menstruation-Inducing Agents
Pregnancy
Rural Population
Social Values
Witchcraft
Abstract
Abortion is not condoned in Jamaica. Its meaning is linked to the meanings of kinship and parenthood, which are expressed through procreation and involve altruism and the assumption of responsibility for the well-being of others. Abortion subverts these ideals but indigenous methods for it are known and are secretly used. The inconsistencies between abortion talk and abortion practice are examined, and the structural functions of abortion (and of its culturally constructed, ideological meaning) are discussed. The distinction--and the overlap--between abortion as such and menstrual regulation is explored. The use of the culturally constructed 'witchcraft baby' syndrome to justify abortion is also investigated. Traditional abortion techniques follow from (and can illuminate) general health practices, which focus on inducing the ejection of 'blockages' and toxins, and from ethnophysiological beliefs about procreation and reproductive health, which easily allow for menstrual delays not caused by conception. The latter understanding and the similarity between abortifacients, emmenagogues and general purgatives allows women flexibility in interpreting the meanings of their missed periods and the physical effects of the remedy.
PubMed ID
8643976 View in PubMed
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