Northern Ireland After Repeal the Eighth: Democratic Challenges

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What does Ireland’s repeal referendum mean for abortion access in Northern Ireland? This question is considered here in terms of the tensions between institutional and cultural opportunities for campaign groups to mobilise the public around the issue of abortion. While the politics of abortion in this region, as elsewhere, link moral and political life, the political and historical context shapes the debate in particular ways. The chapter examines the organized efforts of the two major political groups in the region to frame what is at stake in abortion legislation, whether as a matter of democracy in a devolved post-conflict context; or of equal citizenship. The chapter examines pro-choice and anti-abortion organisational efforts to engage in core political tasks of frame building and bridging, establishing relevance to everyday life and motivating support. In Northern Ireland these tasks are pursued within a restricted political context which is at the same time culturally open. This chapter argues that the deployment of common frames of meaning by conflicting organisations in this context indicates the importance of cultural politics in generating change, particularly in contexts such as Northern Ireland, where institutional structures reinforce the political stalemate. The challenges abortion politics poses to democracy and post-conflict constitutionalism form the core of the chapter’s analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter Repeal
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Abortion Politics
EditorsKath Browne, Sydney Calkin
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherZed Books
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)0781786997197
ISBN (Print)9781786997173
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020
EventAfter the Eighth - Maynooth University , Maynooth, Ireland
Duration: 15 Nov 201815 Nov 2018


WorkshopAfter the Eighth


  • Abortion
  • Northern Ireland
  • Democracy
  • Citizenship
  • Political Opportunity Structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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