The Biopolitics of Birth: Michel Foucault, the Groupe Information Santé and the Abortion Rights Struggle

foucault medicine

This is an edited and abridged excerpt from Chap­ter Six of Fou­cault: The Birth of Power, Polity Press, forth­com­ing 2017.

On 7 Feb­ru­ary 1973, in his course The Puni­tive Soci­ety, one of the exam­ples Fou­cault gives of the moral­i­sa­tion of ques­tions is a con­tem­po­rary one. He sug­gests that there is “a kind of his­tor­i­cal sym­me­try” between the eigh­teenth-cen­tury ques­tions he has been exam­in­ing in rela­tion to dis­si­dence and “the present-day move­ment of ‘moral dis­si­dence’ in Europe and the United States”. His exam­ples in the lec­ture are move­ments that “strug­gle for the right to abor­tion, to the for­ma­tion of non-famil­ial sex­ual groups, to idle­ness”, which are joined in the course man­u­script by “the right to homo­sex­u­al­ity” and the “right to drugs”.1 In the eigh­teenth cen­tury “moral­ity, cap­i­tal­ist pro­duc­tion, and the State appa­ra­tus” had been linked together; “the func­tion of present-day groups is to undo this”. Their work is broader than just break­ing the rules; it is to chal­lenge then, “to attack this con­nec­tion, this coer­cion”.2 His main exam­ple in the present moment con­cerns French pol­i­tics.

Think of the man­i­festo by abor­tion doc­tors and of the response of the Min­is­ter, Foyer, who made this quite extra­or­di­nary state­ment: it is alto­gether regret­table that the doc­tors’ man­i­festo appeared dur­ing the elec­tion, because the prob­lem of abor­tion is a prob­lem of leg­is­la­tion and so must be dealt with in calm and reflec­tion; since it is a prob­lem of leg­is­la­tion, it can­not be raised dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.3

As a note by edi­tor Bernard Har­court explains, Fou­cault is refer­ring to Jean Foyer, Min­is­ter of Health, who had declared on 6 Feb­ru­ary 1973 that “it is deplorable that a polit­i­cal oper­a­tion be launched on such a seri­ous prob­lem dur­ing an elec­tion”.4 Pres­i­dent Georges Pom­pi­dou had pre­vi­ously made a sim­i­lar point. Foyer was react­ing to a let­ter signed by over 300 doc­tors, pub­lished in Le nou­vel obser­va­teur on 5 Feb­ru­ary 1973, declar­ing that they had per­formed abor­tions ille­gally.5

Foucault’s involve­ment was not that of a detached observer, using a con­tem­po­rary story to sit­u­ate his his­tor­i­cal analy­sis. When he sug­gests that Foyer’s view is that such leg­is­la­tion must be decided upon by leg­is­la­tors alone, and that Foyer “does not want the prob­lem to be addressed by those who elect the leg­is­la­tors”, he is think­ing of the cur­rent cam­paign with which he was involved. He sug­gests that Foyer’s point is indica­tive:

This is pre­cisely because a moral dis­tance is intro­duced regard­ing abor­tion: what power [le pou­voir, i.e. the gov­ern­ment] means when it says that only elected deputies are able to take care of this issue, but not those who elect them, is that the eth­i­cal-juridi­cal prob­lem of abor­tion is not a mat­ter for the explicit choice of indi­vid­u­als, not a mat­ter for the national will itself… To say that the deputies can change the law with­out their elec­tors hav­ing any con­trol over this, is to say that the change can be a mat­ter only for power and those elected, not as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a real national will, but as agents of a power that pre­cisely exceeds their man­date, since it can­not be fixed by elec­toral man­date. So it is only at the level of the exer­cise of power that some­thing like abor­tion leg­is­la­tion can be mod­i­fied.6

The inter­twined nature of “the sys­tem of moral­ity and the actual exer­cise of power” has, for Fou­cault, existed in present form since the nine­teenth cen­tury. It con­tin­ues to have an effect in the present. Moral­ity “is inscribed in power rela­tions and only the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of these power rela­tions can bring about the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of moral­ity”.7

Fou­cault is refer­ring to a wider con­text, of course, but also the speci­fic work of the Groupe Infor­ma­tion Santé (GIS). This was a group formed on the model of the bet­ter-known Groupe d’Information sur les Pris­ons (see their man­i­festo). The GIS was offi­cially cre­ated on 14 May 1972, though some work was con­ducted before­hand. The GIS mem­ber­ship com­prised many doc­tors alongside soci­ol­o­gists and philoso­phers. It described its focus as “indus­trial med­i­cine, health of immi­grants, abor­tion, med­ical power”.8 It was based in Paris but regional groups were set up in cities across France. Its aim was partly to decen­tre the med­ical pro­fes­sion from its posi­tion of power, and give peo­ple back the con­trol over their bod­ies and lives. They were con­cerned with work­place med­i­cine, indus­trial injuries or sick­nesses, includ­ing cam­paigns around lead poi­son­ing in the man­u­fac­ture of car bat­ter­ies in the Penar­roya fac­tory in Lyon and sil­i­co­sis in min­ers. They pro­vided health input into auto­ges­tion projects, such as the work­ers takeover of the Lip watch fac­tory. They were also involved in sup­port­ing immi­grant hunger strikes and the use of non-trade­marked drugs, and in chal­leng­ing the prof­its of big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms and the way doc­tors used spe­cial­ized knowl­edge in oppres­sive ways.9 The jour­nal Tankon­alas­anté pub­lished some of their col­lected infor­ma­tion sheets;10 a report on their first gen­eral meet­ing in Bor­deaux; and their three key cam­paigns on abor­tion, fac­tory health, and immi­grant work­ers.11

In a text that can be read as their found­ing man­i­festo from late 1972, to which Fou­cault was the only named con­trib­u­tor, the group dis­cusses the polit­i­cal nature of the inquiry, the need for mar­gin­al­ized groups to assert their power and claims that med­ical issues are at the fore­front of class strug­gle. They stressed that class rela­tions did not just hap­pen “in the fac­tory or work­shop”, and that “med­ical texts do not occupy a neu­tral posi­tion in rela­tion to class strug­gle”.12 While they did men­tion the finan­cial arrange­ments around the French med­ical sys­tem, the sys­tem of social secu­rity and chal­lenge the “med­i­cine of profit”,13 their point is broader than this, and has to do with the divi­sion between intel­lec­tual and man­ual labour. The group was espe­cially inter­ested in the mobil­i­sa­tion of spe­cialised knowl­edge for pro­gres­sive polit­i­cal ends: what Fou­cault would call the ‘speci­fic intel­lec­tual’.14

Part of the group’s aim was to “break the secrecy” around pro­fes­sional and expert knowl­edge in med­i­cine. They aimed to “chal­lenge the divi­sion between sci­en­tific knowl­edge and every­day prac­tice, between man­ual and intel­lec­tual work”.15 The doc­tors recog­nised that they “may already be too con­di­tioned by the sys­tem” to be sure that “their health projects were a real inno­va­tion, and not mere man­age­ment reforms. Knowl­edge has been a bul­wark which has put us out­side all social real­ity”.16 It sug­gested that doc­tors con­duct such inquiries or inves­ti­ga­tions within a closed sys­tem of knowl­edge, “the carceral space within which what we call ‘sci­ence’ traps them”.17 In sum, they wanted “to break down the ‘inquirer-inquiry’ dis­tance that exists at the heart of the con­ven­tional doc­tor-ill per­son rela­tion”.18

We want more than a med­i­cine of profit, we want more than a med­i­cine which objec­ti­fies man, we want more than a knowl­edge which is noth­ing more than a clever mask for oppres­sion. We know that med­i­cine, pre­cisely because it affects a fun­da­men­tal human good, health, is among oth­ers a site of class strug­gle.

We have cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in this strug­gle.19

Some of the work of the GIS was based on the exam­ple of the ‘pop­u­lar tri­bunal’ held in Lens to inquire into the death of six­teen men in a min­ing acci­dent there. At the tri­bunal Jean-Paul Sartre had played the role of pros­e­cu­tor, sug­gest­ing that the explo­sion had been caused by the com­pany putting profit ahead of safety. Doc­tors had been called as expert wit­nesses, and as well as the acci­dent had tes­ti­fied about con­di­tions such as ‘black lung’.

In their 1974 report La médecine désor­don­née, which sum­marises and doc­u­ments their work to date, the GIS out­line their pur­pose in gen­eral terms.

The GIS has set itself the task of devel­op­ing an intol­er­ance for the health sys­tem in France, both unblock­ing and cor­rect­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing health prob­lems, and strug­gling against false pro­pa­ganda that con­fuses an increase in med­i­cine con­sump­tion with an improve­ment in health con­di­tions.

Improv­ing health con­di­tions to the GIS means improv­ing liv­ing con­di­tions in all respects – in the work­place, on pub­lic trans­port, in leisure time, and in pri­vate life: A life with­out free­dom, ini­tia­tive, and flour­ish­ing; a life that is trun­cated and frag­mented. What we call a strug­gle for ‘improv­ing liv­ing con­di­tions’ is in fact a strug­gle for life. It is also a strug­gle for health.20

The GIS’s most impor­tant cam­paign con­cerned abor­tion. At the time, abor­tion was ille­gal in France, but a pub­lic cam­paign has begun with an open let­ter signed by 343 women, pub­lished in Le nou­vel obser­va­teur on 5 April 1971.21 The let­ter declared that while an esti­mated mil­lion women a year had abor­tions, they were forced to do so “in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions because they are forced to do it in secret, while this oper­a­tion, per­formed under med­ical super­vi­sion, is sim­ple”. In order to break the silence, the women declared: “I am one of them. I declare that I have aborted. Just as we demand free access to con­tra­cep­tives, we demand free abor­tion”. Sig­na­to­ries included Colette Audry, Simone de Beau­voir, Cather­ine Deneuve, Mar­guerite Duras, Gisèle Hal­imi and Liane Mozère.

One class aspect was that abor­tion was more eas­ily avail­able for women with money to travel to coun­tries with more lib­eral laws: a choice not avail­able to all. The Octo­ber 1972 Bobigny trial, when a girl who had been raped and her mother were pros­e­cuted for abor­tion, had high­lighted the law’s prob­lems.22 Hal­imi defended the mother and daugh­ter, and a media cam­paign led to the acquit­tal of the daugh­ter but a sec­ond trial for the mother. In early 1973 the GIS coor­di­nated a sec­ond open let­ter, this time by 331 doc­tors who declared that they had con­ducted abor­tions. This let­ter, pub­lished on 5 Feb­ru­ary 1973, called for con­tra­cep­tives to be avail­able to all, includ­ing minors, with widely avail­able infor­ma­tion and to be reim­bursed by social secu­rity; and that abor­tion be freely avail­able on the same terms. This was a deci­sion, it declared, which should be entirely up to the women con­cerned.23 This was the let­ter to which Min­is­ter Foyer was react­ing, in the remarks Fou­cault quotes in his lec­ture of 7 Feb­ru­ary 1973.

The GIS part­nered this media cam­paign with an anony­mous pam­phlet, Oui, nous avor­tons! [Yes, we abort!], also in 1973. It com­prised a mix of state­ments, tes­ti­monies, infor­ma­tion, images, a photo-story and car­toons. No authors were named, and it was sim­ply billed as ‘a spe­cial bul­letin’ of the GIS. It began with not­ing the pro­hi­bi­tions against “abor­tion, incite­ment to abor­tion, or pro­pa­ganda in favour of this act” to be found in the penal code and the pub­lic health code. It detailed the impli­ca­tions for women or med­ical per­son­nel, but noted that while trav­el­ing abroad to have an abor­tion was an offence, it was 90% likely that no charges would be brought, thus under­lin­ing the right being effec­tively avail­able for some, but by no means all women.24 This pam­phlet then, was an inter­ven­tion against a sit­u­a­tion where women could die or suf­fer phys­i­cal or men­tal prob­lems as a result of the lack of avail­able, safe treat­ment. Writ­ten in the voice of a group of women, one of the open­ing parts states that “It is for us to decide to bring a child into the world or not. We are the first ones respon­si­ble for our bod­ies and our lives at all times”.25 It stressed three key aspects: the avail­abil­ity of advice, the safety of pos­si­ble treat­ments, and the abil­ity to pay for them. It explained how preg­nancy could be tested and ter­mi­nated in the very early stages; detailed the ‘aspi­ra­tion’ tech­nique both with text and dia­grams, some hand-drawn and some with pho­tographs of equip­ment such as the specu­lum. It explained likely side effects and the recov­ery period. It then went on to look at meth­ods for more advanced preg­nan­cies, to dis­cuss con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods and their ben­e­fits and side effects. It pro­vided names and addresses of over­seas doc­tors and clin­ics, along with costs. Much of the sec­ond half is given over to women telling their sto­ries. An annexe reprints the doc­tors’ let­ter, and the state­ment read to a press con­fer­ence just a few days later.26 It closes by say­ing that sig­na­tures and for­eign addresses are not enough to resolve the prob­lem, and that “they will wait no more… the law must be abol­ished”.27

Despite the doc­tors who had signed the open let­ter, and the name and address for con­tri­bu­tions and dona­tions being given in the pam­phlet, the pub­li­ca­tion led to Fou­cault, Alain Lan­dau and Jean-Yves Petit being given a court-sum­mons as the pre­sumed authors. The three men note in a defi­ant state­ment in Le nou­vel obser­va­teur on 29 Octo­ber 1973 that police spies mon­i­tored atten­dance at group meet­ings, and they had been seen there. This was “seri­ous cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence” against them. The three affirmed they did belong to the GIS, wrote and dis­trib­uted the pam­phlet and sup­ported the cause.28 How much they were gen­uinely respon­si­ble for its writ­ing, and how much they were shield­ing oth­ers remains unclear. Much of the tone of the text is writ­ten as a col­lec­tive of women, and Foucault’s involve­ment in the actual writ­ing, which is largely spe­cial­ist and out­side his exper­tise, is likely to be min­i­mal. But the response is much more char­ac­ter­is­tic of his involve­ment, and it appears he wrote the co-signed text. It states that the pam­phlet was

aimed at cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion in which [abor­tion] can be talked about, and in which, once they have come out of the shame­ful secrecy where some peo­ple seek to keep them, women can finally have free access to infor­ma­tion on abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion: a sit­u­a­tion in which they are no longer at the mercy of greedy and hyp­o­crit­i­cal doc­tors or left to them­selves, forced to resort to manoeu­vres that are dan­ger­ous for their lives.29

The three men sug­gest that the kind of infor­ma­tion in the pam­phlet is pre­cisely that which the gov­ern­ment wants to keep from women.

For, if women learn that it is pos­si­ble to have an abor­tion in a sim­ple and risk-free way (using the aspi­ra­tion method under the best ster­ile con­di­tions) and with­out charge; if they learn that it isn’t nec­es­sary to do seven years of study in order to prac­tice this method, they risk desert­ing the com­mer­cial cir­cuits of abor­tion and denounc­ing the col­lu­sion of doc­tors, police, and the courts, which makes them pay dearly, in every sense of the term, for the lib­erty they take in refus­ing a preg­nancy.30

The reforms cur­rently being dis­cussed in France are not, they sug­gest ade­quate. They pro­pose a cer­tain num­ber of “strictly lim­ited cases” where it might be allowed – “rape, incest, a def­i­nite abnor­mal­ity in the embryo, and when the birth would risk pro­vok­ing ‘psy­chic dis­tur­bances’ in the mother” – but then only on the say of two doc­tors. This would mean “a strength­en­ing of a med­ical power that is already great, too great, but that becomes intol­er­a­ble when it is cou­pled with a ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’ power that has earned a rep­u­ta­tion for incom­pe­tence and abuse in its appli­ca­tion to intern­ments, medico-legal eval­u­a­tions, ‘chil­dren at risk’, and ‘pre-delin­quent’ young peo­ple”.31 The hos­pi­tal or pri­vate clinic set­tings will repli­cate, rather than improve, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion: “two abor­tion cir­cuits: one, a restric­tive hos­pi­tal expe­ri­ence for the poor; the other, pri­vate, liberal—and expen­sive”. The gov­ern­ment was thus con­struct­ing a polar­i­sa­tion between ‘good doc­tors’ to whom it would “give com­plete power and every ben­e­fit”, and those, like the GIS, “who would estab­lish abor­tion, con­tra­cep­tion, and the free use of one’s body, as rights”.32

Abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tive rights were part of a wider con­cern with sex­ual edu­ca­tion. For exam­ple, Fou­cault spoke in defence of a med­ical doc­tor, Jean Car­pen­tier, had been sus­pended for cir­cu­lat­ing a text on this topic at a school in 1972. Mak­ing a polit­i­cal point, the text, Apprenons à faire l’amour [Learn to make love], was then pub­lished in an expanded ver­sion by Maspero in 1973.33 Fou­cault sug­gested that med­i­cine often exceeded any nar­row bound­aries and had become a “guardian of moral­ity”, “not only defin­ing what is nor­mal or not nor­mal, but ulti­mately what ulti­mately what is legit­i­mate or ille­git­i­mate, crim­i­nal or not crim­i­nal, what is debauch­ery or mal­prac­tice”.34 Here the rel­e­vance is that in abor­tion doc­tors would have a cru­cial role in deci­sions that would be made under the pro­posed reforms.

Another cen­sor­ship case con­cerned the twelfth issue of the jour­nal Recherches, enti­tled ‘Grande Ency­clopédie des homo­sex­u­al­ités: Trois mil­liards des per­vers’, pub­lished in March 1973.35 Recherches was the house jour­nal of a research group led by Félix Guat­tari. Guat­tari was pros­e­cuted and issues of the jour­nal were seized and destroyed. Fou­cault wrote a short piece for Com­bat high­light­ing the prob­lems in the polit­i­cal and legal process, and rais­ing the ques­tion of “the rela­tion between pol­i­tics and sex­u­al­ity”, a theme which was begin­ning to play a cru­cial role in his own work.36 Fou­cault explic­itly links the polit­i­cal ques­tion of “male and female homo­sex­u­al­ity” to the wider strug­gle women’s lib­er­a­tion, men­tion­ing the Mou­ve­ment de libéra­tion des femmes (MLF) and abor­tion rights. He under­li­nes that it is because of a wider strug­gle for the uses of the body, as more than just labour force, that sex­u­al­ity emerges as a polit­i­cal prob­lem.37 Fou­cault would also work with CERFI on col­lab­o­ra­tive research into hos­pi­tals, pub­lic health and town plan­ning.

The abor­tion cam­paign met with suc­cess. In 1975 the ‘Veil law’, named after the Min­is­ter of Health, Simone Veil, allowed the vol­un­tary inter­rup­tion of preg­nancy, ini­tially for a trial period, but this pro­vi­sion became per­ma­nent law in 1979. Until 1982 abor­tion was not sup­ported by social secu­rity, and only in 1992 did it cease to be an offense under the law, rather than an excep­tion. In this strug­gle the GIS’s involve­ment was part of a wider net­work of move­ments, such as Mou­ve­ment pour la Lib­erté de l’Avortement et de la Con­tra­cep­tion (MLAC) founded in 1973; Choisir [choose], founded by Hal­imi in 1971; along with the ear­lier MLF.38

In terms of repro­duc­tion health this is an exam­i­na­tion of what might be called the biopol­i­tics of birth. The doc­tors that Fou­cault and his part­ner Daniel Defert met at this time were later involved in another project with Defert after Foucault’s death, the estab­lish­ment of the AIDES group on HIV/AIDS.39 Like the work of the GIP, the Groupe Infor­ma­tion Asiles and other groups such as Group d’Information des Tra­vailleurs Soci­aux – a social work advo­cacy group – the GIS saw the labour as polit­i­cal, and the role of intel­lec­tu­als alongside prac­ti­tion­ers as cru­cial. All had the goal of free­ing up infor­ma­tion. Defert had enti­tled one of his pieces “when infor­ma­tion is a strug­gle”.40 For Gisèle Hal­imi, these groups were impor­tant at the time because they were pick­ing up issues neglected by main­stream pol­i­tics: “The value of these move­ments is that they rouse the tor­pid con­sciences of the well-fed, and that they are like a shout in the silence”.41

  1. Michel Fou­cault, The Puni­tive Soci­ety: Lec­tures at the Col­lège de France 1972-73, trans­lated by Gra­ham Burchell, Lon­don: Pal­grave, 2015, p. 112. 

  2. Fou­cault, The Puni­tive Soci­ety, p. 112. 

  3. Fou­cault, The Puni­tive Soci­ety, p. 113. 

  4. Quoted in Pol Echevin and Jean-V. Manevy, “Les hors-la-loi de l’avortement”, L’Express, 12-18 février 1973, p. 42. 

  5. “Des médecins «s’accusent»: Man­i­feste des 331”, Le nou­vel obser­va­teur, No 430, 5 février 1973, pp. 4-5, 55. 

  6. Fou­cault, The Puni­tive Soci­ety, p. 113. 

  7. Fou­cault, The Puni­tive Soci­ety, p. 113. 

  8. Michel Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, edited by Paul Rabi­now and James Faubion, trans­lated by Robert Hur­ley and oth­ers, Lon­don: Allen Lane, Three Vol­umes, 1997-2000, Vol III, p. 423. 

  9. Groupe Infor­ma­tion Santé, La médecine désor­don­née: D’une pra­tique de l’avortement à la lutte pour la santé, Paris: GIS, 1974, pp. 7-9. 

  10. See, for exam­ple, “Fiche prac­tique du G.I.S.”, Tankon­alas­anté, No 4, 1973, p. 11. 

  11. Tankon­alas­anté, No 5-6, 1973-74, pp. 5-11. 

  12. Michel Fou­cault et le mem­bres du GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, Vers une antimédecine? Le médecine, la malade et la société, spe­cial issue of La Nef, No 49, 1972, pp. 67-73, p. 68, 71. 

  13. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, p. 72. 

  14. See Philippe Artières, “1972: nais­sance de l’intellectuel spé­ci­fique”, Plein Droit, No 53-54, 2002, pp. 37-38. 

  15. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, p. 68. 

  16. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, pp. 68-9. 

  17. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, p. 71. 

  18. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, p. 69. 

  19. Fou­cault and the GIS, “Médecine et luttes des classes”, p. 72. 

  20. Groupe Infor­ma­tion Santé, La médecine désor­don­née, p. 7. 

  21. “Un appel de 343 femmes”, Le nou­vel obser­va­teur, No 334, 5 avril 1971, p. 5; avail­able at; see MD 18-9. 

  22. See Groupe Infor­ma­tion Santé, La médecine désor­don­née, pp. 20-1. 

  23. “Des médecins «s’accusent»: Man­i­feste des 331”. 

  24. Groupe Infor­ma­tion Santé, Oui, nous avor­tons! Paris: Édi­tion Gît-le-Cœur, 1973, p. 4. 

  25. GIS, Oui, nous avor­tons! p. 5. 

  26. GIS, Oui, nous avor­tons! pp. 65-66, 69-73. 

  27. GIS, Oui, nous avor­tons! p. 74. 

  28. Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, Vol III, pp. 423-5. 

  29. Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, Vol III, p. 424. 

  30. Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, Vol III, p. 424. 

  31. Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, Vol III, p. 424-5. 

  32. Fou­cault, Essen­tial Works, Vol III, p. 425. 

  33. Apprenons à faire l’amour, Paris: François Maspero, 1973. On the case, see La faute du doc­teur Car­pen­tier : faute pro­fes­sion­nelle ou délit d’opinion? Psy­chi­a­trie aujourd’hui, No 10, 1972. 

  34. Fou­cault, Dits et écrits 1954–1988, edited by Daniel Defert and François Ewald, Paris: Gal­li­mard, Four Vol­umes, 1994, Vol II, p. 381. 

  35. Orig­i­nal copies of the issue are hard to find, but a repro­duc­tion was recently pub­lished, Trois mil­liards de per­vers : Grande ency­clopédie des homo­sex­u­al­ités – Réédi­tion de l’édition de 1973, Les Lilas: Acratie 2015. 

  36. Fou­cault, Dits et écrits, Vol II, p. 536. 

  37. Fou­cault, Dits et écrits, Vol II, p. 537. 

  38. The best over­all account of this period is in Jean-Yves Le Naour and Cather­ine Valenti, His­toire de l’avortement: XIXe-XXe siè­cle, Paris: Seuil, 2003, Chs. 6 and 7. 

  39. Inter­view with Daniel Defert, 12 April 2015; see Daniel Defert, Une vie poli­tique: Entre­tiens avec Philippe Artières et Éric Favereau, Paris: Seuil, 2014. 

  40. Groupe d’information sur les pris­ons, Archives d’une lutte 1970-1972, edited by Philippe Artières, Lau­rent Quéro and Michelle Zan­car­ini-Four­nel, Paris: Édi­tion de l’IMEC, 2003, pp. 69-73. 

  41. Gisèle Hal­imi, La cause des femmes, Paris: Bernard Gras­set, 1973, p. 88. 

Author of the article

is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick. He has published widely in philosophy, politics, geography, literature and history. His most recent book is The Birth of Territory and he is currently writing two books on Foucault, Foucault's Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power.