Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Jeffrey S. Good


abortion, discourse analysis, public controversy, reproductive politics, rhetorical analysis, Twitter

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The abortion controversy in America has long been characterized by problematic discourse in which neither prolife nor prochoice groups make headway in persuading the other side. This thesis examines the discourse of the abortion controversy as it played out in and around the Texas State Senate on June 25th, 2013, during a filibuster of a restrictive abortion bill known as Senate Bill 5 (SB5), by Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth). The analysis focuses on three sets of data: first, the testimonies authored by citizen protestors and animated by Senator Davis; second, the question-and-answer period between Senator Davis and Republican Senator Bob Deuell; and third, the discourse occurring on Twitter during the filibuster. Using a blend of discourse analytic methods and rhetorical theory, the thesis aims to prove that regardless of context, speaker(s), and medium, discourse regarding the abortion controversy is almost always characterized by the same problems of stalemate.


Open Access