The Irish Abortion Journey, 1920–2018

  • Lindsey Earner-Byrne
  • Diane Urquhart

Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 1-8
  3. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 9-31
  4. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 33-50
  5. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 51-68
  6. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 69-97
  7. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 99-116
  8. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 117-136
  9. Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Diane Urquhart
    Pages 137-141
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 143-158

About this book


‘The first fully comprehensive, accessible account of Irish women's struggle for bodily autonomy against powerful male-dominated institutions of state and society. It maps the historical context of the island, the prevailing norms and mores over the decades, the similarities and differences in both states, and firmly place women's value and autonomy as citizens within that, highlighting the hypocrisy, misogyny and careless attitudes that prevented and continue to prevent women from determining their own morality. It charts an amazing journey that is far from over, and articulates a narrative that many people will recognise.’

- Dawn Purvis, Former Director of Marie Stopes UK, Northern Ireland

This book reframes the Irish abortion narrative within the history of women’s reproductive health and explores the similarities and differences that shaped the history of abortion within the two states on the island of Ireland. Since the legalisation of abortion in Britain in 1967, an estimated 200,000 women have travelled from Ireland to England for an abortion. However, this abortion trail is at least a century old and began with women migrating to Britain to flee moral intolerance in Ireland towards unmarried mothers and their offspring. This study highlights how attitudes to unmarried motherhood reflected a broader cultural acceptance that morality should trump concerns regarding maternal health. This rationale bled into social and political responses to birth control and abortion and was underpinned by an acknowledgement that in prioritising morality some women would die. 


reproductive rights healthcare Northern Ireland anti-abortion culture contraception

Authors and affiliations

  • Lindsey Earner-Byrne
    • 1
  • Diane Urquhart
    • 2
  1. 1.School of HistoryUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Institute of Irish StudiesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Pivot, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-03854-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-03855-7
  • Buy this book on publisher's site