Repealing the Eighth Amendment: A Historical Institutionalist Discursive Analysis

  • Anna-Elaine Rempel University of Victoria
  • Q Roxas University of Victoria
  • Jenna Hrechka University of Victoria


This study analyzes the Republic of Ireland’s successful 2018 referendum to repeal the Eighth Constitutional Amendment restricting access to abortion. Using a historical institutionalist perspective to interpret our findings, we analyze the dominant issues informing Irish public opinion towards abortion over time by conducting a discursive analysis of newspaper publications between 1992 and 2018. Our study concludes that the X Case and the death of Savita Halappanavar constitute critical policy junctures resulting in the development of new moral templates, which in turn shifted popular opinion towards liberalizing abortion, and ultimately led to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.