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Empowerment and Privacy? Home Use of Abortion Pills in the Republic of Ireland

Sheldon, Sally (2018) Empowerment and Privacy? Home Use of Abortion Pills in the Republic of Ireland. SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 43 (4). pp. 823-849. ISSN 0097-9740. E-ISSN 1545-6943. (doi:10.1086/696625) (KAR id:67048)

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Early reports heralded the development of abortion pills as promising a reproductive revolution. Some twenty-five years on, this article considers the extent to which this promise has been fulfilled in the context of the Republic of Ireland. It focuses in particular on the work of two online collectives, Women on Web and Women Help Women. Drawing on a small number of interviews with activists, support groups, service providers, doctors, and government officials, the article assesses, first, the extent to which abortion pills have empowered women and, second, their offer of privacy. It argues that while home use of pills has had enormous importance in furthering each of these goals and, more generally, women’s health, it does not offer a panacea for current deficiencies in reproductive health care. The empowerment offered by abortion pills is necessarily precarious and partial, with the privacy offered by the pills operating not just as part of that empowerment but also as a significant limitation on it. The article also suggests that privacy readily collapses into secrecy, feeding a carefully choreographed silence regarding abortion, which allows the state to ignore its existence and thus to avoid responsibility for women’s reproductive health.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1086/696625
Uncontrolled keywords: abortion, abortion pills, Republic of Ireland
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 17 May 2018 14:34 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:54 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sheldon, Sally:
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