Biopolitics, Gendered Nationalism, and Abortion: The Influence of the Catholic Church in Poland and Ireland

Poland and Ireland each have some of the world's most restrictive abortion legislation, with abortion being nearly if not entirely criminalized in both countries. Their respective histories provided an ideological vacuum in which the Catholic Church filled a nationalist role, setting the stage for each country to become a modern theocracy. Both countries have a strong tendency to equate nationalism with Catholicism, and further, with traditional gender roles; this emphasis on gendered nationalism becomes a mechanism through which the male, Catholic nation-state maintains control over women. The influence of the church-state strips women of their physical, intellectual, and political agency. Restrictive abortion legislation in Ireland and Poland is an embodiment of Catholic influences and biopolitics. The state's management and control of reproduction are inseparable from how women's bodies and lives are managed and controlled. Gendered understandings of the nation are manifested at the site of the female body vis-á-vis the state's policies, and abortion access therefore becomes explicitly linked to the moral and political boundaries of the nation. I argue that the nationalist, religious rhetoric employed by the unofficial theocracy in both states coupled with a historical legacy of conservative understandings of gender enable Ireland and Poland to implicitly and explicitly deprive women of their fundamental rights; as such, women are subject to processes of regulation, discipline, and control carried out by the Irish and Polish Catholic nation-states. Both states thereby institutionalize policies and ideologies that systematically oppress women and hierarchize fetal life over the lives of women.
This content, grinnell:18757, has been visited 27 times and downloaded 12 times.

Advanced Search