Narratives of Irishness and the problem of abortion: the X Case 1992

Lisa Smyth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers the ways in which discourses of abortion and discourses of national identity were constructed and reproduced through the events of the X case in the Republic of Ireland in 1992. This case involved a state injunction against a 14-year-old rape victim and her parents, to prevent them from obtaining an abortion in Britain. By examining the controversy the case gave rise to in the national press, I will argue that the terms of abortion politics in Ireland shifted from arguments based on rights to arguments centred on national identity, through the questions the X case raised about women’s citizenship status, and women’s position in relation to the nation and the state. Discourses of national identity and discourses of abortion shifted away from entrenched traditional positions, towards more liberal articulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 1998


  • Abortion
  • Constitution
  • Foetal rights
  • Antrim
  • National identity
  • Women’s citizenship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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