Because they occurred in the contentious public arena that surrounds abortion, the development, introduction, and use of RU486 (also known as the “abortion pill”) provide a valuable vantage point for studying the historical interests, representations, and practices of the actors who gathered around them. This paper presents a historical case study of the attempt to introduce RU486 into Canada in the early 1990s, drawing on an earlier U.S. arena analysis performed by Clarke and Montini (1993), supplemented by key theoretical concepts from Actor Network Theory and Ruth Schwartz Cowans framework for linking gender, technology, and public policy. In identifying various heterogeneous actors, their public constructions of RU486 and each other, and their contingent alliances, the paper outlines the history of RU486 in Canada. It also explores some theoretical issues arising from the case in regard to the public understanding and negotiation of reproductive biomedicine.

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The public negotiation of ru486 in canada
A historical case study and socio-technical analysis

Trish Campbell   University of Calgary

Because they occurred in the contentious public arena that surrounds abortion, the development, introduction, and use of RU486 (also known as the “abortion pill”) provide a valuable vantage point for studying the historical interests, representations, and practices of the actors who gathered around them. This paper presents a historical case study of the attempt to introduce RU486 into Canada in the early 1990s, drawing on an earlier U.S. arena analysis performed by Clarke and Montini (1993), supplemented by key theoretical concepts from Actor Network Theory and Ruth Schwartz Cowans framework for linking gender, technology, and public policy. In identifying various heterogeneous actors, their public constructions of RU486 and each other, and their contingent alliances, the paper outlines the history of RU486 in Canada. It also explores some theoretical issues arising from the case in regard to the public understanding and negotiation of reproductive biomedicine.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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