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 http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/societe/20071127.OBS7018/le-manifeste-des-343-salopes-paru-dans-le-nouvel-obs-en-1971.html; 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.