Liberalizing Abortion Rights amidst Global Backlash

Cases from Iceland and Ireland

Reproductive rights have been facing what appears as a global onslaught lately. Moves to limit access to abortion have been made in countries as diverse as the United States, Norway, and Malta, to name a few. While far more countries have broadened the grounds under which abortion is legal over the past decades, these moves are alarming as they suggest that women’s (broadly conceived) rights are reversible. 

The research seeks to address the legal reforms passed in Ireland (2018), Iceland (2019), and Northern Ireland (2020). All are examples of a successful liberalization, while they also entail an implicit backlash. LARABII applies a social justice and feminist perspective on the debate around women’s bodily autonomy to investigate both the legislative reform, and the surrounding debates in the three instances. Specifically, it explores how they negotiate the tension between liberalization and backlash, which can be observed in all cases in the debate and/or the legislative outcome, despite superficial success. The analysis also extends to the impact of COVID-19 on access to abortion. 

The study will use discourse analysis to analyse data collected from public sources and media. It aims to shed a light on how these legislative successes can be emulated in different political environments and identify the pitfalls to be avoided for those seeking to ensure women’s human rights.

Those affiliated:

Dr. Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, PI, Professor of International Affairs, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland

Gunnar Sigvaldason, PhD Student, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland

Dr. Luke Field, Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland

Thelma Rut Elíasdóttir, Postgraduate Student, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland

Brynhildur Björnsdóttir, Project Manager

Dr. Fiona Bloomer, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Ulster University

Dr. Kelly Gordon, Assistant Professor in Political Science, McGill University

Dr. Gyða Margrét Pétursdóttir, Professor of Gender Studies, Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland 

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