"Pro-Life" Absolutes, Feminist Challenges: The Fundamentalist Narrative of Irish Abortion Law 1986-1992

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Osgoode Hall Law Journal, ISSN: 0030-6185, Vol: 36, Issue: 1, Page: 1-62

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Fletcher, Ruth
Abortion; Ireland--Religion; Freedom of movement; Feminist jurisprudence; Abortion; Ireland--Religion; Freedom of movement; Feminist jurisprudence
article description
This article asks how Irish abortion law developed to the point of stopping a young pregnant rape victim from travelling abroad to have an abortion in 1992 (Attorney General v. X.). The author argues that this case, which ultimately saw the Irish Supreme Court overturn that decision and recognize the young woman's right to abortion, was the last chapter of the fundamentalist narrative of Irish abortion law. The feminist critique of that law needs to consider its particular fundamentalist aspects in order to clarify the obstacles posed to the struggle for Irish women's reproductive freedom. The author argues that a fundamentalist narrative ordered the post-colonial and patriarchal conditions of Irish society so as to call for the legal recognition of an absolute right to life of the "unborn." The Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitutional right to life of the fetus in three cases during the 1980s is evidence that Irish abortion law was constructed through a fundamentalist narrative until that narrative was rejected in the Supreme Court decision in Attorney General v. X.