Ph.D. Candidate Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson on Derry’s mobilization for the decriminalization of abortion

Ph.D. Candidate Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson recently published an article in the journal Irish Political Studies, entitled, “Beyond green and orange: the alliance for choice – Derry’s mobilization for the decriminalization of abortion.” The article explores the ways in which restrictions on activists for the decriminalization of abortion in Derry affected the activists’ strategies.

Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto.

We have posted the citation and the abstract below. The full article is available here.

Marie-Lise Drapeau-Bisson (2019) Beyond green and orange: alliance for choice – Derry’s mobilisation for the decriminalisation of abortion, Irish Political Studies, DOI: 10.1080/07907184.2019.1619834

On 8 October 2014, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice (DoJ) set up a public consultation on amending the law on abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crimes. Several organisations mobilised to respond to the consultation, but pro-choice activists in Alliance for Choice-Derry (AfC-Derry) preferred to invest their time in popular education tactics  aimed at the greater public. Why did these activists refuse to lobby politicians, as they have done in the past, and instead mobilise for awareness-raising actions? In this article, I argue that the gender-blindness of the post-conflict consociational settlement in Northern Ireland restricted activists’ opportunity to lobby governments both at Stormont and Westminster. Activists thus shifted their approach to mobilisation: from lobbying to educational tactics; from extending UK’s 1967 Abortion Act1 to decriminalisation; and from targeting politicians to targeting culture. This analysis of pro-choice activism under the gender-blind, consociational political system in Northern Ireland will shed light on theoretical questions of gendered political structure constraints on feminist actions as well as the development of cultural tactics by a “critical community” during a period of abeyance.