Colonialism, Human Rights, and Abortion in Ireland

Swaying Voters with Historical and Political-Legal Narratives

  • Rachel Connelly


This essay explores the role of narratives in the field of the Irish abortion debate. In specific, it explores the different types of narratives that both the pro-choice and pro-life groups manipulate in order to draw support from The Irish populace. The author explains that the pro-choice groups employ political-legal narratives To argue for the right to abortion whereas historical narratives and anti-British sentiments are more commonly found within pro-life narratives. However, the true purpose of the pro-life narratives is to prevent the secularization and liberalization of Ireland's laws, thereby maintaining the patriarchy at the top of the social hierarchy. However, with the 2018 referendum on the constitutional ban on abortion resulting in a liberalization of Ireland's abortion laws, the lack of success on The pro-life end is revealed, and a possible wave of liberalization may follow to permanently shift the social hierarchy.

Author Biography

Rachel Connelly

Rachel graduated from Boston College in May 2019, majoring in political science and minoring in history and Irish studies. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and took a course with Dr. Rita O’Donoghue, who sparked her interest in women’s issues in Ireland. Her varied academic interests include learning about trailblazing women throughout history (from Grace O’Malley to Ruth Bader Ginsburg), researching intersections between international law and women’s rights, and reading fiction from around the globe. She is employed as a corporate paralegal in Boston and previously worked as a victim-witness advocate intern at the Essex County District Attorney’s O1ce. She plans to attend law school and hopes to pursue a career in international women’s rights law. Her article was written for Professor Jim Smith’s interdisciplinary course on Irish writers of the recent economic boom and bust years. She wishes to thank Professor Smith for his encouragement and support in developing this paper.

How to Cite
Connelly, R. (2021). Colonialism, Human Rights, and Abortion in Ireland. Elements, 15(1), 17-24.