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Antiabortion positions and young women's life plans in contemporary Ireland


  • Oaks, Laury


At a critical time when Ireland's abortion ban faces legal challenges and the number of women obtaining abortions abroad each year continues to climb, some antiabortion advocates have turned their attention toward the social factors that influence women's abortion decision-making. Through an analysis of articles carried in the Irish mainstream and Catholic presses, this article examines how antiabortion advocates since the late 1990s have promoted an "antiabortion, pro-motherhood" message in response to trends that they identify as indicating that Irish reproduction has "gone awry". Antiabortion activists have focused in particular on the life plans of young, middle-class, career-oriented women, many of whom have benefited from increased employment opportunities within Ireland. These women are more likely than young women in past generations to postpone childbearing or opt for abortion in the face of an unwanted pregnancy, and thus, symbolize for antiabortion advocates the devaluation of a "traditional" Irish culture centered on the privileging of motherhood and married family life. This article examines antiabortion ideologies deployed around motherhood, work, and childcare, and argues that antiabortion advocates' "pro-motherhood" campaign fails to adequately respond to the changing realities of young, middle-class Irish women's life opportunities and expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Oaks, Laury, 2003. "Antiabortion positions and young women's life plans in contemporary Ireland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(9), pages 1973-1986, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1973-1986

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    Cited by:

    1. Hopkins, Nick & Zeedyk, Suzanne & Raitt, Fiona, 2005. "Visualising abortion: emotion discourse and fetal imagery in a contemporary abortion debate," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 393-403, July.
    2. Lalor, Joan & Begley, Cecily M. & Galavan, Eoin, 2009. "Recasting Hope: A process of adaptation following fetal anomaly diagnosis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 462-472, February.
    3. Graham, Ruth H. & Robson, Stephen C. & Rankin, Judith M., 2008. "Understanding feticide: An analytic review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 289-300, January.


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