Abortion Debates in Ireland: An Ongoing Issue

Evelyn Mahon

in Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic State

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199242665
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600258 | DOI:

Series: Gender and Politics

 Abortion Debates in Ireland: An Ongoing Issue

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The direction of abortion policy in Ireland began with criminal restrictions and proceeded towards constitutionally based prohibitions on legalized abortion. Pressure for reform has been eased because women can get legal abortions in Great Britain. For the women's movement, abortion law reform has not been a central issue and has divided activists. These factors, along with an exceptionally strong pro‐life movement based in the Conservative Catholic Church, help explain the exceptional case of abortion law in Ireland. Still, the movement has had some success, first in getting access to the policy‐making process and then limiting the extreme controls on women's lives, notably in the ‘X’ case, which secured the right to travel. The issue remains unresolved and weak women's policy agencies inside the state are symbolic with respect to movement demands.

Keywords: abortion law; activism; Catholic church; constitution; Ireland; policy‐making; pro‐life movement; right to travel; women's movement; women's policy agencies

Chapter.  10132 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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