Motherhood and Infertility in Ireland

Jill Allison, ISBN 978-178205-003-2, €39, £35, Hardback, 234 x 156mm, 272pp, 2014, Cork University Press

Through the lens of infertility, Jill Allison’s book is a cultural account of shifting meanings of conception, fertility, motherhood and family in the current climate of changing Irish social life. This book portrays how the taken for granted associations between nature, reproduction, marriage, family and morality are also shaping the production of new kinds of reproductive knowledge and the use of reproductive technologies in Ireland

Infertility stories show us how the once seamless connection between marriage, motherhood, sex and procreation is contested. Through the stories of women and men facing infertility, the book brings to life the forces that shape the idea of motherhood in Ireland and the way many women see themselves, not as victims of circumstance, but as agents and beneficiaries of changing social values and expectations.

The book also examines how religious, medical and state institutions employ the meanings of “nature” and science in procreative endeavours in an effort to be the dominant voice in a conversation about an ongoing pronatalist politics. The use of reproductive technologies is discussed in relation to the historical and contemporary debates about reproductive choice. The dilemmas people face when using assisted reproduction technologies also highlight the complexity and contingency of the local morality in which reproductive politics operates in Ireland.

The book makes an important contribution to the story of change in Ireland as it represents the current cultural context in which people are making decisions about family building.

Jill Allison is Global Health Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

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