Date of Award
This study examines and critiques rhetorical use of the term complicity by the Religious Right in six U.S. Supreme Court cases from 1973 to 2021 as a tactic to restrict access to reproductive care and exert control over female reproductive bodies. Comparing the language invoked by Religious Right claimants and the Supreme Court justices to my working definition of complicity reveals that use of complicity regarding reproductive care in the United States has expanded in scope over time. However, the argument fails to meet four essential criteria necessary for being considered complicit. Religious Right claimants generally base their complicity arguments on a “slippery slope” fallacy and object to their perceived financial facilitation of abortion and contraceptive medications through taxes and healthcare. The evidence demonstrates that by drawing legal boundaries around the definition of complicity, the Supreme Court would improve its ability to evaluate the legitimacy of religious-based complicity claims, protect reproductive care access for third-party people with uteruses, and strike a better balance between the increasingly conflicting rights to religious and reproductive freedom.
Rahn, Natalie, "Funding Abortion as Facilitating It: The Complicity Argument in Religious Right Legal Efforts to Control Reproductive Choice in the United States" (2021). Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Undergraduate Honors Theses. 5.