Rights Versus Rites? Catholic Women and Abortion Access in Northern Ireland
Pierson’s chapter addresses a topical and still fiercely contested issue for Irish Catholics. Gendered conceptualisations of nationalism present resonant imagery of women as mothers of the nation, often stereotyped in Irish nationalism through the highly Catholic image of the Virgin Mary. Viewing women’s key contributions to national identity through the role of motherhood creates assumed notions of nurturing and self-sacrificing identity. Abortion and its assumed rejection of motherhood crosses boundaries of ideal womanhood and as such is presented as abhorrent to Irish Catholic nationalism and to Irishness more widely on the island of Ireland. This chapter calls on liberal theological conceptions of Catholicism such as that voiced by Catholics for Choice to envision how abortion stigma could be broken down in Northern Ireland.
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