Contraceptive Mentalities, 1960s–1980s

  • Lindsey Earner-Byrne
  • Diane Urquhart
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Artificial birth control was largely condemned and unavailable in Northern Ireland until the late 1960s and prohibited in the Republic of Ireland until 1979. In both states the issue continued to be conflated with abortion and considered largely within the realm of morality rather than health care until the 1970s. This chapter examines the debates on the liberalisation of birth control in the 1960s and 1970s with a view to understanding the history of reproductive rights on the island. It explores how this reframing of the birth control issue contributed to a determination by well-organised conservative groups to ensure that Ireland did not witness a similar reform of abortion laws on the island.


Contraception Birth control Reproductive rights Second Vatican Council Humanae Vitae Coitus interruptus 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

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

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