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Nursing identity and abortion work : interrupting 50 years of professional discourse Haney, Catherine Margaret

Abstract

In this inquiry, I investigate the discursive processes of professional identity construction and acquisition in the context of nurses’ participation in abortion work. Guided by social linguistic theory, I have conducted an historical discourse analysis of the abortion-related articles, advertisements, editorials, and letters to the editor published in the national professional journal, The Canadian Nurse, from 1950 to 2000. I have determined that multiple abortion care identities—or the specific ideologies and practices that are normalized as legitimate nursing values and work—have been constructed for nurses through a variety of discursive moves, including didactic messaging and implicit comparison with and in contrast to other social actors and the procedure itself. Ultimately, the availability of professional identities that support abortion as legitimate nursing work enable nurses to provide and promote the physically and psychologically safe abortion services that are essential to the health and well-being of women and communities worldwide. Recommendations and strategies for evaluating and operating professional abortion discourses in practice, research, education, and policy arenas to improve women’s access to safe care are included. Additionally, the findings of this investigation are discussed within the context of professional identity nursing scholarship in general.

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