Professor to speak on fetuses, nature

Keynote speaker Phaedra Pezzullo, an associate professor of rhetoric and public culture at Indiana University, is presenting a lecture about women’s rights and how environmental politics concern the well-being of the fetus.

“I am interested in the ways we can address how toxic pollution impacts fetal health without marginalizing women,” Pezzullo said. “I want to find a space to talk about fetuses without falling into the frame of a pro-life agenda.”

Pezzullo said her presentation will not focus on anti-abortion, but instead focus on the productivity of addressing women’s rights where they pertain to fetal health.

“I will review some significant feminist arguments about ProLife discourses about fetuses, but I am more interested in finding new ways of talking about and imagining fetuses,” Pezzullo said.

Some of the health concerns, which pertain to fetal health, may be out of control of the mother who is carrying the fetus, Pezzullo said.

“Individual women can avoid paint fumes, cigarette smoke, eating fish with high mercury levels, and so forth,” Pezzullo said. “We can’t avoid the pollution in the air we all breathe, or force corporations to give us more information about the environmental risks posed by their products.”

Sace Elder, an associate professor of history, said the theme for women’s history and awareness month is women and the environment.

“Pezzullo’s current research is on women’s health and fetal health,” Elder said. “She’s interested in figuring out how environmental activists affect the fetuses.”

Elder said the main focus of Pezzullo’s research has been on fetal health and it is the compelling images Pezzullo uses in her presentations that send the message of environmental effects on fetal health.

“(Feminist scholars) are looking carefully at the language we use about fetal rights and are thinking about different ways we look at pregnancy and fetuses,” Elder said. “A woman has the right over her own body.”

Elder said the fetus is considered a citizen and it requires special protection from the environmental risks.

“Pregnant women who are in smoky rooms are not thought about; we think about the fetus,” Elder said.

According to Pezzullo’s website, her research focuses on justice movements as they pertain to the environment and sciences.

“Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution, and Environmental Justice,” which is her coedited book about the environment, focuses on environmental justice movements and how they may relate to the environment or gender through politics.

Pezzullo’s lecture is in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Union at 7 p.m. today.

Jennifer Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].