Lost in the Process?

The impact of devolution on abortion law in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Using the case study of abortion policy across the United Kingdom, this article takes a feminist institutionalist approach to advance our understanding of state architecture and party competition within decentralised political systems. Despite increasing divergences across the United Kingdom in relation to abortion policy, contemporary debates around abortion access have rarely become politicised. Moreover, as this article demonstrates, when they have, the subject has been framed by politicians as a constitutional matter, relating to legislative competencies, rather than considered in terms of women’s rights. This framing, we argue, is linked to the specific constitutional arrangements of the post-devolution UK and the political strategies of the parties operating within them. Drawing upon parliamentary debates and interviews with political representatives to map the circumstances driving changes to abortion policy in the United Kingdom, this article introduces important comparative lessons for other cases of political decentralisation on the discussions and policies concerning women’s rights
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 May 2019

Keywords

  • Abortion Policy
  • Devolution
  • Feminist institutionalism
  • Gender Politics
  • UK Politics
  • Welsh Politics
  • multi-level governance
  • Scottish Politics
  • Northern Irish Politics
  • Abortion

Cite this

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title = "Lost in the Process?: The impact of devolution on abortion law in the United Kingdom",
abstract = "Using the case study of abortion policy across the United Kingdom, this article takes a feminist institutionalist approach to advance our understanding of state architecture and party competition within decentralised political systems. Despite increasing divergences across the United Kingdom in relation to abortion policy, contemporary debates around abortion access have rarely become politicised. Moreover, as this article demonstrates, when they have, the subject has been framed by politicians as a constitutional matter, relating to legislative competencies, rather than considered in terms of women’s rights. This framing, we argue, is linked to the specific constitutional arrangements of the post-devolution UK and the political strategies of the parties operating within them. Drawing upon parliamentary debates and interviews with political representatives to map the circumstances driving changes to abortion policy in the United Kingdom, this article introduces important comparative lessons for other cases of political decentralisation on the discussions and policies concerning women’s rights",
keywords = "Abortion Policy, Devolution, Feminist institutionalism, Gender Politics, UK Politics, Welsh Politics, multi-level governance, Scottish Politics, Northern Irish Politics, Abortion",
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AU - Whiting, Sophie

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AB - Using the case study of abortion policy across the United Kingdom, this article takes a feminist institutionalist approach to advance our understanding of state architecture and party competition within decentralised political systems. Despite increasing divergences across the United Kingdom in relation to abortion policy, contemporary debates around abortion access have rarely become politicised. Moreover, as this article demonstrates, when they have, the subject has been framed by politicians as a constitutional matter, relating to legislative competencies, rather than considered in terms of women’s rights. This framing, we argue, is linked to the specific constitutional arrangements of the post-devolution UK and the political strategies of the parties operating within them. Drawing upon parliamentary debates and interviews with political representatives to map the circumstances driving changes to abortion policy in the United Kingdom, this article introduces important comparative lessons for other cases of political decentralisation on the discussions and policies concerning women’s rights

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