Cultural Differences in the Abortion Discourse of the Catholic Church: Evidence from Four Countries


This essay investigates the cultural themes used by the Catholic Church in arguing against abortion in four different countries: Ireland, Poland, the U.S., and England & Wales. The focus is whether the Church differentiates its use of cultural arguments in accordance with its insider/outsider institutional status, or the contested nature of the abortion policy-making environment. The prevalence of women-oriented themes is also explored. I find that in each country the Church draws more heavily on cultural than on doctrinal sources of legitimation, and exhibits a strong similarity in the sorts of cultural arguments used. There is a significant difference in the patterned appeal to national identity in the U.S. and Poland, and its absence in England and Ireland.

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Sociology of Religion


Oxford University Press

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© 1996 Association for the Sociology of Religion