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Title: Abortion politics and national identity : the X-case, Irishness and the nation-state
Author: Smyth, Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0000 3602 323X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis examines the shifts in political culture effected by the 'X case' (1992), when the State issued an injunction to prevent a fourteen year old pregnant and suicidal rape victim from travelling abroad for an abortion. In so doing, this thesis focuses on the connection between discourses of Irish nationhood, gender and sexuality in the fields of reproductive politics and women's citizenship. Abortion law and politics has had constitutional status in Ireland since 1983, when the right to life of 'the unborn' was officially recognised as ostensibly equal to that of women. This has situated debate on abortion access in an explicitly national framework, since political sovereignty is invested in 'the people'. Shifting articulations of nationhood and abortion are examined in three specific sites of political culture: the national press; political activist discourses; and official legislative debates. The terms of debate in the press and the Oireachtas (legislature) in particular are compared over time, from the 1983 campaign to recognize a foetal right to life, to 1992, when the legitimacy and meaning of constitutional abortion law was thrown into crisis by the X case. Two specific reversals in the terms of post-X case abortion politics are examined. Firstly the anti-abortion construction of the nation in familial terms produced popular pressure in 1992 to allow for a right to abortion in the interests of familial integrity. Secondly, the primary antagonism opposing Irish 'pro-life' traditionalism to English 'pro-abortion' modernism was reversed both by the anti-abortion lobby's key role in 'interning' X within the State, and by the popular perception that feminist advocacy of abortion access would reassert the integrity of the violated family. Significant continuities in the construction of abortion law and politics in national terms are also analyzed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; KDK Ireland