16, pregnant, and keeping it : investigating the implications of the discourse of prevention
The terms broadly accepted within the discourse surrounding adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health utilize a language of prevention (i.e. focused on preventing teenage pregnancy). These terms operate through a normalized framework of what is considered legitimate, responsible, and appropriate with respect to reproduction. This thesis investigates this discourse, exploring both the assumptions inherent within it, and its ramifications on those whose decisions fall outside normative conceptions of reproduction. This thesis draws on political theory, interviews with local practitioners and staff members at two separate clinics, both of which operate at School Based Health Centers, as well as advocates working in the field of public health. The process revealed three underlying currents: the dominant discourse of adolescent girls' reproductive health largely reflects normative neoliberal values, the policing of female sexuality, and a distortion of agency. It also explores the ways individuals in the field are actively effecting change through a careful reconsideration of language.
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