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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sex and the Church : a study of the Catholic Church and reproductive health in Chile

  • Author(s): Longenecker, Karen
  • et al.

This work explores the modern day discourse on sexuality in Chile with particular attention given to the influence of the Catholic Church on reproductive health policy. The Catholic Church has historically been involved in popular social reform efforts in the 19th and 20th centuries, and was also heavily involved as the protectorate of human rights during the Pinochet dictatorship. Due to this popular reputation of the Church after the dictatorship and during the transition to democracy, the Church has since enjoyed concentrated political and social clout. The Church's position in the modern period, both politically and culturally, is incredibly influential. In the modern period, the Church's Pro Family campaign exerts significant influence on reproductive health policy. Using interview data from original fieldwork conducted in Chile, respondents were asked about their opinions on sexuality, reproductive health, public politics, and the influence of the Catholic Church regarding these issues. This study gives specific attention to the nuclear family structure, sexual education in schools, reproductive choice and the morning after pill. In line with Foucauldian notions of the micro-physics of power and the concept of bio-power, this study concludes that the influence of the Catholic Church on reproductive health policy is discriminatory against women and creates a barrier to reproductive health care services in Chile

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