Title

Marriage, Abortion, and Coming Out

Document Type

Article

Publication

Columbia Law Review Online

Year

2016

Abstract

Over the past two decades, legal protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals have dramatically expanded. Simultaneously, meaningful access to reproductive choice for women has eroded. What accounts for the different trajectories of LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights?

This Piece argues that one explanation—or at least partial explanation—for the advance of LGBTQ rights relative to reproductive rights is the differing degree to which individuals have come out about their experiences with sexuality compared to coming out about experiences with unplanned pregnancies. In particular, as catalogued in this Piece, popular media portrayals of lesbian and gay individuals have proliferated, broadening the social and judicial understanding of minority sexualities. Meanwhile, popular media portrayals of women confronting unplanned pregnancies remain relatively sparse and, when they do appear, are often inaccurate and unrepresentative.

The correlation between positive media portrayals of lesbian and gay individuals and judicial recognition of protections for sexual minorities suggests that in order to halt the erosion of reproductive rights, it will be important to expose society to people exercising their right to abortion on the screen, in the office, and at the kitchen table.

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