Dr Prudence Flowers


College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Social Sciences South (310)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

BA (Honours First Class), University of Melbourne, 2003

PhD (in History), University of Melbourne, 2009

Honours, awards and grants

2018: Catherine Helen Spence Memorial Scholarship ($25,000)

2012: Invited participant in the US Department of State’s International Visiting Leadership Program on ‘Security in Asia’

2011: Establishment Grant, Flinders Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences ($8,000)

2009: Overseas Conference Leave funding, Flinders Faculty of Social Sciences

2005: Gerald R. Ford Foundation Research Travel Grant, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library ($2,000)

2005: Lillian Ernestine Lobb Scholarship, University of Melbourne ($8,000)

2005: Postgraduate Overseas Research Experience Scholarship, School of Graduate Studies ($3,500)

2005: Travel for Research in Postgraduate Study, Faculty of Arts ($1,350)

2004-8: Australian Postgraduate Award

2003: Margaret Kiddle Prize for the best fourth year thesis in pure or combined History, University of Melbourne ($590)

2003: Jessie Mary Vasey Prize for best thesis in Women’s History, University of Melbourne ($1,000)

Research expertise
Research interests

I am a historian who focuses on social movement activism, modern conservatism, medicine and public health, and the politics of gender, sexuality, and the body. I am particularly interested in abortion and family planning, both as elements of health care and as triggers for polarizing social movement formation.

My main research project focuses upon the United States and the political education of the anti-abortion movement, exploring what happened after the ‘social issue’ of abortion was embraced by Reagan Republicans. I am interested in charting the ways in which access to power shaped and limited the national right-to-life movement, the relationship between activists, and their understanding of partisan politics and the branches of government. This work also seeks to situate the anti-abortion movement within other socially conservative networks, and I have a particular interest in exploring the way that opponents of abortion crafted a rhetorical discourse in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis that furthered their own social and political ends. My central question centers on conservative group formation and ideology, and I explore the way that the politics of the body serves to unify and mobilize, yet cannot overcome, deep internal divisions on the Right.

At the same time, I am working on a second project that focuses on termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks' gestation in Western nations such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. This is a qualitative study relying on interviews with abortion health care providers and clinicians, seeking to explore the impact of different legal frameworks and public health policies on the provision and accessibility of abortion. I am interested in the professional insights of providers and clinicians both as individuals and as actors in broader social, medical, and legal networks. I am also exploring the evolution of the polarizing discourse that currently exists around so-called 'late-term abortions.'

Teaching interests

My focus is U.S. history and I teach topics that run from the 1600s to the 1990s. I have an interest in social history (gender, race, class, religion) and also political history.

Topic coordinator
HIST2020 Colonies, Empire, and Revolution: British North America 1500-1800
HIST3045 Guns and Butter: The United States in the Long 1960s
HIST7055 Historical Practice
HIST3009 Civil War Era America
HIST3010 One Nation Under God? Religion in American Public Life
HIST1703 Turning Points in World History
HIST2076 The Divided States of America, 1920-2000
Supervisory interests
American society and political issues
Contemporary histories of the United States
History, religious
History, women's
Public health law
Reproductive politics
The history of the body
US conservatism
Higher degree by research supervision
Associate supervisor: History (3)
Associate supervisor: American Studies (1)
Expert for media contact
History - American
United States of America
Abortion politics in the United States
Late termination of pregnancy
President Ronald Reagan
Religion in post-WWII America
US History
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Abortion
  • History - American
  • Religion
  • United States of America
  • Abortion politics in the United States
  • Feminism
  • Late termination of pregnancy
  • President Ronald Reagan
  • Religion in post-WWII America
  • US History
Further information

Media interviews

Radio interview on 'What is feminism?', Mornings with David Bevan, ABC Adelaide, 4 June 2019

Radio interview on Alabama and US abortion politics, Drive with Richard Glover (Sydney), 22 May 2019

Alabama's abortion law is just the beginning — activists want to overturn Roe v Wade, ABC News online, 21 May 2019

Could the US ban abortion? The Signal podcast, 21 May 2019

Television interview about US abortion law and politics, The Drum, 16 May 2019

Outdated and Oppressive: US abortion laws tighten, The Wire on Radio Adelaide, 16 May 2019

Alabama's State Senate passes near-total ban on abortion, RN Drive, 15 May 2019

Radio interview about Catherine Helen Spence project, ABC Radio Adelaide, 24 November 2018

'Late-term abortion help,' The Advertiser, 23 November 2018

Research focus on late termination pregnancy, Flinders News, 23 November 2018

Retired doctor reminisces about rescuing Moonies cult followers in the 1970s, ABC News online, 29 October 2017

Television interview by Simon Royal on cults and California in the 1960s and 1970s, ABC News (SA), 28 October 2017

Book reviews

Prudence Flowers reviews 'Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition' by W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Australian Book Review, March 2019

Invited blog posts

US States pushing for Roe v. Wade test case in Supreme Court, Lowy Institute, 8 July 2019

The Resilience of Roe: US Abortion Bans and the 2020 Election, Australian Outlook, 25 June 2019

The Republican Party, the Supreme Court, and Competing Anti-Abortion Strategies, ANZASA Online, 24 June 2019

A Movement Divided? Incrementalists, Absolutists, and Anti-Abortion Strategy, ANZASA Online, 3 June 2019

The Future of Roe, ANZASA Online, 11 September 2018

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