Week 5 Activity Post

When considering which of the five theoretical frameworks of anthropology would be best to discuss my topic of abortion in Ireland, I settled on the critical medical anthropology theory. I chose the critical medical anthropology theory because abortions are a topic that is both a political and social issue. Also, because the well-being of women seeking abortions is largely dependent upon the government of the country they reside in, Ireland for instances. There are many factors that come into play when considering the health of individuals such as political, social, and economic factors. These factors come into play when people are considering abortion, it should not however a decision that should be made by the government on whether there is a safe path to obtaining an abortion.

Critical Medical Anthropology is a “theoretical perspective in medical anthropology which stresses the importance of political and economic structures, especially global capitalism, on the health of human populations (also known as the political economy of health)” (Joralemon, 2010.) This states that critical medical anthropology takes into account political, social and economic factors when considering the health of human populations. This is relevant to the topic of abortion because critical medical anthropology stresses the importance of politics and economic situations of individuals in the healthcare system. Politics, quite frankly, are deciding for women what they are allowed to do with their bodies. Economics comes into play when considering whether people in poor economic situations are faced with a dangerous or unplanned pregnancy if they would be able to afford a chance to save their life. In Ireland, in 2010, 4,402 women from the Republic of Ireland went to England or Wales to access abortion facilities. (IFPA 2010) This means people in poor economic situations would most likely not be able to afford the trip abroad.

The origins of critical anthropology are in the 1980s. Due to globalization a form of medical anthropology, critical medical anthropology, took the instructions of political economy seriously (Singer & Erickson 2013.) This took into consideration the work that was done in the 1970s with respect to traditional medicine and how it does and does not respond to the persuasions from what was then called “capitalist” or “cosmopolitan” medicine. (Singer & Erickson 2013) “Critical medical anthropology advocates took a materialist approach – one that prioritized the examination of power structures that underlay dominant cultural constructions and questioned the ways in which power” (Singer & Erickson 2013.) This is important to the situation in Ireland because it the people that are in power that have been following dominant culture and trying to keep abortion illegal in Ireland. However, with the recent vote more seem to be in favor of legalizing abortion that before (Quinn 2017.)

The critical medical anthropology theory is going to be the best way for me to explain how Ireland is considering continuing a life altering law in their country or banning it once and for all. This a decision that I, personally, think should be up to every individual. This however, is not my perfect world, it is everybody’s world. I’m excited to further share how this theory in important in the consideration to change abortion laws in Ireland.


Abortion & Ireland: The Statistics (2010). In IFPA. Retrieved July 27, 2018, from http://www.ifpa.ie/sites/default/files/documents/briefings/abortion-and-ireland-factfile.pdf

Quinn, D. (2017). Abortion Looming in Ireland. Human Life Review, 43(2). Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/docview/1927524893?pq-origsite=summon

Singer, M., & Erickson, P. I. (2013). A companion to medical anthropology. Chichester [England: Wiley-Blackwell.

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