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Post-colonial Fragments: Representations of Abortion in Irish Law and Politics

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The Republic of Ireland has become infamous for its legal stance against abortion, especially since it went as far as stopping, albeit temporarily, a young rape victim from travelling abroad for an abortion in 1992. I argue that one of the rationales behind anti-abortion law is a post-colonial urge to mark Irishness distinctively by constructing it in exclusively ‘pro-life’ terms. I discuss examples of how Irish colonial experiences have been used to justify the effort to keep Ireland abortion-free, and to resist that effort. Representations of colonial history in the context of Irish abortion law and politics have changed over time and between groups. Such changes indicate a need for post-colonial critique to account for the fragmentation of colonialism as it is displaced, a need which the conceptualization of post-coloniality as a historical object can address.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Law, Keele University

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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