“‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013’: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion” by Claire Murray

Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Claire Murray of the School of Law, University College Cork in Ireland, for her useful article, published in a special issue of Social & Legal Studies,  guest-edited by Siobhan Mullally, on “Regulating Abortion: Dissensus and the Politics of Rights.”  We are pleased to circulate this abstract and links to the full text:

Claire Murray, “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion”, Social and Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec 2016): 667-698   PDF onlineAccepted version.

Abortion is an issue that exposes deep divisions in Irish society and this was apparent during the debates on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.  This introduced a framework regulating abortion into Irish law for the first time, but maintained the existing position where abortion is only available where the life of the woman is at risk. This article focuses on the centrality of suicide within the Irish discourse on abortion and the impact this had on the shape of the legislation ultimately introduced, in particular the inclusion of a more onerous process with which a woman must engage before she can obtain an abortion where the risk to her life is from suicide.  It highlights the practical consequences of this for the small number of very vulnerable women in Ireland who will be required to engage with the new statutory process which is deeply damaging.  The 2013 Act reinforces the two-tier approach to healthcare that exists in Ireland in the specific context of reproductive healthcare, as those with sufficient resources will be able to bypass the difficult and undignified statutory procedure and those who lack the socioeconomic capital will be compelled to remain.
PDF onlineAccepted version.

Keywords:  Abortion, dignity, Ireland, regulation, risk to life, suicide.

See also:
Attorney General v. X, [1992] I.E.S.C. 1, (Supreme Court of Ireland) had decided that an attempt to prevent a 14-year old girl who was pregnant as a result of being raped, from traveling from Ireland to England in order to access abortion care was not justified.  She was at real risk of committing suicide. Decision online.

Re-imagined judgment of Attorney General v. X  by Ruth Fletcher, with Commentary by Sheelagh McGuiness, in: Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity, edited by Máiréad Enright, Julie McCandless and Aoife O’Donoghue (Oxford: Hart, 2017)  This book re-imagines, re-writes and comments on 26 court decisions from feminist perspectives.  Table of Contents and details
Reprohealthlaw blog comments, and links to full text

A referendum on Irish abortion law has been promised before June 2018. Irish Times.






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