Arguing with Mother Ireland: Gender Performance and Nation

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

By Holly Bond

"Ah Mother Ireland. How could you ever support abortion?"

Ah, Mother Ireland. You have been on many people’s minds recently.

We have been talking about your hard or soft borders, and your growth in GDP. The last few years have seen you mature a lot; legalising gay marriage and most recently, and perhaps more contentiously, when you decided to end the ban on abortion on the 26th May 2018. The result was a win for repealing the Eighth Amendment, the clause that states an unborn life is equal to that of the mother. It only allowed abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or fatal foetal abnormalities. The majority was an overwhelming 66.4%, which begs the question; why did it take so long?

For a Catholic country that has been relatively progressive in the last decade, legalising gay marriage and voting for an openly gay Taoiseach, Ireland has somewhat been a playboy of the western world in abortion terms, going against the grain of his neighbours who legalised it decades before.

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Ireland is no playboy at all, but exactly the opposite. Throughout the centuries, the art, politics and literature of Ireland have shown us that Ireland is not an unruly young lad, but a woman: Mother Ireland. How could Mother Ireland ever support abortion?<