The success of the anti-abortion campaign in the Republic of Ireland represents a significant exception to recent Western trends in abortion law. While most European democracies were easing restrictions on abortion law in the second half of the twentieth century, the Irish adopted a constitutional amendment protecting the life of the 'unborn' in 1983. Since then, there has been much discussion of the issues relating to this measure which has brought Ireland's extreme pro-life stance to international attention. In this book, the author explores the implications of abortion law and politics and argues that the constitutional protection of the 'unborn' in Ireland is motivated more by a desire to use 'pro-life' policy to represent Irishness, than a desire to literally infringe women's individual rights or tie them to the social role of motherhood. It is argued that the policy has much in common with the cultural policies of other jurisdictions - pro-female circumcision or pro-veil positions - to the extent that such policies are markers of cultural difference.
Such culturally representative laws are problematic in that they have the effect of denying women's individual rights and limiting their social roles.