Article

Seeing as Making: Mediation, Rhetoric, and the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act

Author: Scott Weedon (Texas Tech)

  • Seeing as Making: Mediation, Rhetoric, and the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act

    Article

    Seeing as Making: Mediation, Rhetoric, and the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act

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Abstract

How do material and discursive arrangements, technologies and rhetoric, shape the subjects and objects of medical discourse (Scott & Melonçon, 2017; Selzer & Crowley, 1999)? How are the affordances of material and discursive arrangements seized by political actors? Tackling these and similar questions has been a growing preoccupation in the rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine, where researchers have sought better ways of understanding the entanglements of the symbolic and material (Booher & Jung, 2018; Graham, 2009; Jack, 2019; Propen, 2018). A perspicuous case for this research is the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act (UICA), an amendment to the Public Health Service Act mandating that women receive an ultrasound and have its images described to them before having abortions. Three US states have a version of this law, with over twenty others having laws similar to the UICA (Guttmacher Institute, 2019, n.d.). Through this law, antiabortionists are able to construct a kairotic situation through the mediating capacity of ultrasound where they can use the actual state of affairs (a woman seeking an abortion) to argue through images for a possible future (a woman foregoing abortion). This article analyzes the UICA to understand how the political speech of antiabortionists enrolls the moralizing capacity of ultrasound to construct a kairotic situation to intervene in women’s pregnancies. Starting from studies of actor-networks (Latour, 1983;1999a) and technological mediation (Verbeek, 2011; 2015), and departing to feminist rhetorical science studies (Booher & Jung, 2018; Frost & Haas, 2017) and rhetorical approaches to imagery and visualization (Propen, 2018; Roby, 2016; Webb, 2009), I argue that not only do translation processes and technical mediation distribute agencies; they construct the very situations where agencies are constituted. This study can widen our understanding of how political entities appropriate the rhetorical capacities of technology and discourse to translate their politics into legislature.

Keywords: rhetoric of health and medicine, rhetoric of technology, kairos, visualization

How to Cite:

Weedon, S., (2022) “Seeing as Making: Mediation, Rhetoric, and the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act”, Poroi 16(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2151-2957.31089

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Published on
31 Jan 2022
Peer Reviewed
License
CC BY-NC 4.0