Three Case Studies: Countries in which Christianity Curtails Women’s Bodily Autonomy

El Salvador:

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One, salient country in which Christianity oppresses women is El Salvador. This small, Central American country uses Christianity to deprive women of their bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. According to an article published by CNN, “in El Salvador, abortion is illegal under all circumstances, with no exceptions, even in the case of rape, or where the woman’s life is at risk.” Worse still, this country also punishes women “who have an abortion, or simply miscarry,” with “up to 50 years in prison.” A report from the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy indicates that the Catholic Church played a large role in outlawing abortion in El Salvador. For instance, this report states that “The Church’s position…had the greatest impact on public opinion on [the outlawing of] abortion” (30).

Chile:

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Chile, a South American country, provides another example of how Christianity can oppress women. In this country, abortion became legal only in 2017 and only under three, specific circumstances. According to the Official Gazette of Chile, abortion is legal in Chile solely when the life of the mother is imperiled, when the fetus is not viable, and in the case of rape. The Guardian reports that it was primarily the conservative views of the Catholic Church which enabled these restrictions to be codified in the first place. Moreover, the remaining prohibitions on abortion are also a consequence of the Church’s hardline position.

The Philippines:

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According to a fact sheet published by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Philippines’ legal code criminalizes and provides no legal exception for abortion. The Center also observes that “in 2008 alone, the Philippines’ criminal abortion ban was estimated to result in the deaths of at least 1,000 women and complications for 90,000 more.” The center maintains that negative attitudes pertaining to abortion are perpetuated by collusion between the government and the Catholic Church.

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