Reproductive Rebellions in Britain and the Republic of Ireland: Contemporary and Past Abortion Activism and Alternative Sites of Care

Ben Kasstan, Sarah Crook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This paper explores how feminist movements in contemporary Ireland and the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s have subverted state domination and have struggled for self- governance of the female bodies in ways that represent a continuum of responses to restrictive legislation. We address how discourses of liberatory knowledges and autonomy can give rise to ‘illegitimate’ forms of self-care as well as extra-state care (or ‘exile’) across historically-situated points in time. Moreover, we illustrate how social resistance can influence political action surrounding abortion law reform, which can be understood as an attempt to bring the ‘illegitimate’ into the realm of state control and guardianship. Our comparative approach illustrates how campaigns around reproductive rights in contemporary Ireland and in 1970s and 1980s Britain continue to share three crucial strategies: to raise consciousness and awareness; to encourage mobilisation and self-organising of care at the individual and collective levels; and to seek legislative change. Mapping the continuities in how feminist campaigns configure reproductive health and the body as a site of activism in the body politic heralds renewed feminist encounters with the medical humanities, by (re)situating women’s bodies in a historically contiguous struggle for reproductive justice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2018

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