Thesis

We are not vessels : Irish women's experiences of abortion

This journalistic thesis consists of four articles exploring Irish women’s experiences of having an abortion in the U.K., as abortion is still illegal in Ireland. Using qualitative interviews, academic inquiry, and cultural analysis, I examine how public discourse, academic theory and popular culture all create an oppressively prescriptive narrative regarding abortion that women must navigate—even as they navigate actual experiences of abortion itself. The articles address women’s experience of socially prescribed feelings of guilt; personal and cultural roles of motherhood and patriarchal figures; and the spatial geography of abortion on a personal and national scale. The final article addresses ambiguity and ambivalence and the role they play in the women’s experiences and in my experience of writing this thesis and becoming another person who interprets these women’s testimony. I strive instead to do what Ireland has failed to do for them: that is, to listen.

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