Conception – Past and Present

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. Today’s post from Isabel Davis introduces us to a new project that examines conception in the past and the present.

Those undergoing IVF treatment look modernity in the face. Watching a cell fertilise and an embryo develop in a petri-dish necessarily inspires awe in modern science. Read, for example, this moving account of embryo transfer by New Zealand blogger Little Red Hen.[1]  At the same time as marvelling at reproductive technology, she spares a thought for the people of the past, who lived without these assistive technologies; in spite of her own struggles it makes her ‘feel lucky’.

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Reframing the Narrative of Concealed Pregnancy: Contemporary Media Representations that Shame, Blame and Vilify Women

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. Our latest posting comes from Sylvia Murphy Tighe and Joan Lalor, both of Trinity College Dublin. The authors would like to thank the 28 women who participated in The Keeping it Secret (KISS) Study exploring the nature and impact of concealed pregnancy and the Health Research Board (Ireland) who funded this study.

We recently presented a paper at the Institutions and Ireland symposium on Medicine, Health and Welfare in Trinity College Dublin examining contemporary media representations of concealed pregnancy. Using a vignette we drew on the case of Baby Maria who was found by the roadside in Dublin last year to explore the use of language and the images presented. Of course we acknowledge the rights of infants in such situations and the importance of press freedom. However in the presentation we aimed to contrast the perspective of women who have experienced a concealed pregnancy against the prevailing narrative presented by the media. Continue reading

Institutions and Ireland: Medicine, Health and Welfare

Institutions and Ireland: Medicine, Health and Welfare

A one-day conference exploring Ireland’s continuously evolving relationships with institution.

Neill/Hoey Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Dublin

Friday 5 February 2016

Papers of potential interest to members include:

  • Lloyd Houston (Brasenose College, Oxford), ‘The Wages of Sin is a Month in the Locke’: Irish Modernism and the Politics of Venereal Disease
  • Professor Linda Connolly (UCC), The Construction of Gender and Motherhood through the Lens of Church–State Power in Ireland
  • Sylvia Murphy Tighe (TCD), Contemporary Media Representations of Concealed Pregnancy: Shaming, Blaming, and Vilifying Women
  • Keynote Address: Dr Rhona Mahony (Master, National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street), The Birth of a Republic: Giving Birth in Ireland, 1916–2016

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Concealed Pregnancy & Newborn Abandonment: A Contemporary Problem

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week’s timely post is contributed by Sylvia Murphy Tighe and Prof Joan Lalor of Trinity College, Dublin.

Concealed Pregnancy & Newborn Abandonment: A Contemporary Problem

The recent case of Baby Maria who was found by a passer-by in Dublin on 8 May is a reminder of Ireland’s sad legacy of concealed pregnancies in traumatic and difficult circumstances. There are many views strongly held by those who have not been affected as to why women conceal a pregnancy. It is not uncommon for those perceptions to be negative. It is often assumed that concealed pregnancy is confined to history and is an artefact of a time when pregnancy outside of marriage was shunned. Although concealed pregnancy is not exclusive to Ireland, it has been associated with countries where Catholicism is the dominant religion. Ireland has a shameful history when it comes to women and their reproductive rights which continue to be legally controlled by the 8th Amendment which gives equal right to life to the mother and fetus. Ireland has a national biography that is characterised by the scars of mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries and forced adoption, each seen as a State sponsored solution to pregnancy outside of marriage.

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Philomena Lee addresses Adoption Conference at UCC, Ireland

Adoption: Past, Present and the Philomena Project

In the first review for the Perceptions of Pregnancy website, Sylvia Tighe Murphy reports back from the Redefining Adoption in a New Era conference and reviews Philomena Lee’s address.

Last week I had the privilege of hearing Philomena Lee address an Adoption Conference at University College Cork. Redefining Adoption in a New Era: Opportunities & Challenges for Law & Practice sought to bring people together such as those who were adopted, natural/birth mothers, academics, and legal and social work practitioners. The general public may know of Philomena Lee’s life following the dramatization of her life story in the blockbuster movie Philomena. But the stark reality of what happened to Philomena nearly sixty years ago has no fairy tale ending. Philomena’s key note address was a reminder to us all of a time in Ireland that many might wish to forget where women who became pregnant outside of marriage were treated harshly, ostracised and put away.

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