After a CEDAW Optional Protocol Inquiry into abortion law: a conversation with activists for change in Northern Ireland

Claire Pierson, Fiona K. Bloomer, Les Allamby, Emma Campbell, Breedagh Hughes, Laura McLaughlin, Rachel Powell

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Liberalisation of abortion laws are often presented in public and academic discourse as the end of a struggle. Northern Ireland may be showcased as a success story with decriminalization of abortion happening in 2019, after an inquiry by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) found grave and systemic breaches of women’s rights and subsequent intervention from the Westminster Parliament changed the law. However, abortion is still not readily accessible in Northern Ireland, with services being provided on an ad hoc basis and those seeking abortion often continuing to travel to England to access services.

Given the issues with implementation of abortion rights reforms, we wanted to interrogate the work of local actors in implementing CEDAW inquiry recommendations. How do those domestic actors involved in implementation use the recommendations in their work? Does the CEDAW inquiry contribute to broader societal understandings of women’s rights? How do anti-women’s rights actors attempt to delegitimize CEDAW recommendations? It is here that we wish to intervene, to begin an interrogation of how international inquiries can be used by domestic actors in the longer term to ensure that abortion rights are upheld in practice and to reshape and think anew understandings of sexual and reproductive health rights. We call for increased academic interrogation of how activists respond to international inquiries including which issues get prominence and which strategies are deemed most effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Issue number2
Early online date12 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 12 Apr 2022


  • Abortion
  • abortion law
  • abortion policy
  • abortion providers
  • United Nations
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • reproductive rights
  • human rights
  • Northern Ireland


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