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Reproductive Sociology Research Group

New Publication from Aideen O'Shaughnessy, 'Triumph and concession? The moral and emotional construction of Ireland’s campaign for abortion rights' with the European Journal of Women’s Studies. Read the full article, available in open access.


In March 2018, the Irish government confirmed that a referendum would be held on 25 May, allowing for the Irish public to vote on the legalisation of abortion. The same month, Together for Yes – the national civil society campaign advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum – was launched. This article draws upon findings from 27 in-depth interviews conducted in December 2019 and January 2020 with Irish abortion activists, to explore the moral and emotional construction of abortion within the ‘Yes’ campaign. This research suggests that the ‘Yes’ campaign, which secured 66% of the votes cast in the referendum, framed abortion as a negative affective object and constructed the moral permissibility of abortion along rather conservative lines. Data from the first year of abortion provision in the Republic of Ireland reveals that abortion seekers still face huge obstacles in accessing services in the State. The legislation introduced in January 2019 allows abortion on request only until 12 weeks, whilst issues remain in relation to the refusal of care. This article, therefore, concludes that by framing abortion in conservative terms, the pro-choice campaign has not yet succeeded in destigmatising abortion in Ireland – an issue now translated into limited legislation and inadequate provision of services.

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