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Mediating abortion politics in Ireland: media framing of the death of Savita Halappanavar

McDonnell, Orla and Murphy, Padraig orcid logoORCID: 0000-0001-6268-6579 (2018) Mediating abortion politics in Ireland: media framing of the death of Savita Halappanavar. Critical Discourse Studies, 16 (1). ISSN 1740-5904

On 28 October 2012, Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman living in Ireland, died in hospital while under medical care for a miscarrying pregnancy. According to her husband, her repeated requests for an abortion were ignored because of the presence of a foetal heartbeat. Ms Halappanavar’s death was a critical event in the process leading to a referendum on 25 May 2018, when the Irish electorate voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, removing the constitutional ban on abortion. The name Savita has become indelibly linked to the changing course of abortion politics, so it is timely to reassess the role of the media in shaping the parameters of the debate about the impact of her death on the issue. This study presents a frame analysis of Irish newspapers in the weeks following her death, mapping the political, medical, legal and socio-ethical discourses, as well as the related contemporaneous events that set the agenda for the type of debate that was to follow. It identifies four media frames: Public Tragedy, Political Opportunity, Abortion Legacy and Maternal Health. Our central argument is that the overall effect of media framing provided much face-saving for politicians in the way that the legislative issue was viewed through a conservative party-political lens, despite public outrage.
Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Savita Halappanavar; abortion politics; Ireland; discourse; media framing
Subjects:Social Sciences > Journalism
Social Sciences > Mass media
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of Communications
Publisher:Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Official URL:https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2018.1521858
Copyright Information:© 2019 Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:23145
Deposited On:08 Apr 2019 15:21 by Padraig Murphy . Last Modified 11 Mar 2020 04:30

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