Deconstructing Pregnancy: RU486, Seeing “Eggs,” and the Ambiguity of Very Early Conceptions

Abstract

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.