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Feminist Abolitionist Nursing and Social Justice

The current featured ANS article is titled “Feminist Abolitionist Nursing,a” authored by Martha Paynter, MSc, RN; Keisha Jefferies, MN, RN; Leah Carrier, BScN, RN; and Lorie Goshin, PhD, RN. This article is published “open access” which means anyone can download the PDF at any time! We welcome you to do so, and to share your comments about this work with us on this blog! Here is a commentary about this work from primary author Martha Paynter:

Martha Paynter

COVID-19, the dominant theme in health care discourse for the past two years, has forced a new level of reckoning among care providers about the ethics of incarceration when prisons are so vulnerable to infectious disease transmission. At the same time, health care providers are recognizing the violence of policing and imprisonment, often lethal, is disproportionately borne by Black and Indigenous people. These twinned socio-clinical crises have served as the background to rising levels of consciousness and consideration of abolition- a movement to end policing and prisons and create alternatives that support communities to thrive. Abolition feminism recognizes the connectedness between gender discrimination and violence against women, trans and nonbinary people with the bias and violence of the criminal justice system, and resists impulses to respond to gendered social harms with further investment in carceral controls. The aims of nursing- to heal, to support, to prevent harm- conflict intractably with the operations and intentions of prisons and policing. Situated in the medical heteropatriarchy, nursing resistance of health institutional subordination and prison operations requires complex feminist praxis. It also requires challenging white supremacy within nursing, and the proximity of nursing to colonial and racist systems of control. Our paper is a call for action for nursing to reject the taken-for-grantedness of carceral responses to social harm; to recognize the urgency of abolition to address the escalating numbers of women, trans and nonbinary people experiencing incarceration, and the gendered harms of imprisonment; and to adopt abolitionist ethics in research, policy, and practice through creativity, solidarity, and persistence. 

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