1./2.12. When Dystopia Becomes Reality: Law, Literature and the post-Roe v. Wade World

A Workshop by the Research Platform GAIN - Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities


1 and 2 December 2022


With contributions from Elisabeth Holzleithner, Agata Ignaciuk, Sara Jiménez Fernandez, Tanya Lolonis, Sylvia Mieszkowski, Greta Olson, and Maria Sagmeister.


In late June 2022, the US Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade. The respective decision, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, though not entirely unexpected, thanks to a highly unusual leak of a draft opinion, sent a shockwave around the globe. For almost half a century, the US Constitution had provided a right that put women in the US - at least theoretically - in charge of reproductive decisions that would drastically affect their whole lives. This era has come to an end.

Yet there is hope. For one, the historic turn-out at the US midterm elections in November 2022 delivered at least the Senate to the Democrats, many of whose candidates had put reproductive policy front and centre of their campaigns. This may continue to inspire state legislatures - blue, purple and red - to pass laws that protect the very reproductive rights which Dobbs eviscerated. But there is also reason to hope that a new generation of feminist political activists and theorists will rise to the challenge, not least by providing some of the argumentative tools that will be needed in the imminent political debates.

Our interdisciplinary and international workshop aims to bridge from law to cultural representation and back again. We will discuss different national frameworks around reproductive rights that exist in the world post Roe v Wade, different forms of activism to which they have given and are giving rise, while also taking a look at dystopian narratives, on which reality seems to be gaining ever faster.




01.12.2022, 14.00-19.30
Seminarraum SEM52, Juridicum 5.OG, Schottenbastei 10-16


Get together and Introduction


Elisabeth Holzleithner (University of Vienna)
The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion”: The US Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation

Maria Sagmeister (University of Vienna)
De/criminalizing abortion: Austrian and German legislation between constitutional courts and parliaments

Agata Ignaciuk (University of Granada)
Reproductive rights behind the Iron Curtain? Abortion stigma and abortion practice in communist Poland


Round table discussion: Did women save democracy (again)? The role of reproductive rights in the US Midterm Elections and the future of democracy

Greta Olson (University of Gießen) and Tanya Lolonis (Democrats abroad), chaired by Elisabeth Holzleithner


02.12.2022, 09.30-13.00
Seminarraum SEM31, Juridicum, 3.OG Schottenbastei 10-16

Sara Jiménez Fernandez (University of Granada)
Feminist counterapocalypse in the face of the judicialisation of Catholicism: Abogados Cristianos v. Coño Insumiso

Greta Olson (University of Gießen)
After Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: Naming and Resisting Anti-Feminist, Anti-Trans, and Racist Tropes and Narratives in Current U.S. Law

Sylvia Mieszkowski (University of Vienna)
“He left you intact for a Biblical purpose”: fertility, oppression and the (black) female body in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale


Closing Remarks: Elisabeth Holzleithner & Sylvia Mieszkowski

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