Deconstructing pregnancy: RU486, seeing "eggs," and the ambiguity of very early conceptions

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This article deconstructs previous notions of pregnancy. Using empirical data from French women's experience with RU486 for medical abortion, I demonstrate that very early and unwanted conceptions have an ambiguous quality. I illustrate an understanding of pregnancy as a reproductive continuum: these women understand pregnancy to include a stage where "eggs," and not fetuses, are present. I discuss how the use of RU486 creates new ways of knowing about the fetus, and I compare an understanding of the fetus by women using RU486 with previous understandings from ultrasound images, in utero photography, and the imagination. I demonstrate that women's embodied knowledge can expand the parameters of fetal discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-108
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Abortion
  • Embodied knowledge
  • Fetal discourse
  • RU486
  • Reproductive technology


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