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Politics of Morality : The Church, the State, and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland

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After the fall of the state socialist regime and the end of martial law in 1989, Polish society experienced both a sense of relief from the tyranny of Soviet control and an expectation that democracy would bring freedom. After this initial wave of enthusiasm, however, political forces that had lain concealed during the state socialist era began to emerge and establish a new religious-nationalist orthodoxy. While Solidarity garnered most of the credit for democratization in Poland, it had worked quietly with the Catholic Church, to which a large majority of Poles at least nominally adhered. As the church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it precipitated a rapid erosion of women’s reproductive rights, especially the right to abortion, which had been relatively well established under the former regime.The Politics of Morality is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on individual rights and social mores. It explores the contradictions of postsocialist democratization in Poland: an emerging democracy on one hand, and a declining tolerance for reproductive rights, women’s rights, and political and religious pluralism on the other. Yet, as this thoroughly researched study shows, women resist these strictures by pursuing abortion illegally, defying religious prohibitions on contraception, and organizing into advocacy groups. As struggles around reproductive rights continue in Poland, these resistances and unofficial practices reveal the sharp limits of religious form of governance.

After the fall of the Communist regime and the end of martial law in 1989, Polish society experienced both a sense of relief from the tyranny of the past and an expectation of the freedom that democracy would bring. After this initial wave of enthusiasm, however, social and political forces that had lain concealed beneath the veneer of official Communist ideology began to emerge and establish a new social orthodoxy. While Solidarity garnered most of the credit for democratization in Poland, the Catholic Church, to which a large majority of Poles at least nominally adhered, had quietly worked to support the forces of change. As the church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it instigated a rapid erosion of women?s reproductive rights, which had been relatively well established under the former regime.

The Politics of Morality is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on the individual rights and social mores. It explores the contradiction of post-Communist democratization in Poland: an emerging democracy on one hand, and a declining tolerance for reproductive rights, women?s rights, and political and religious pluralism, on the other. The interrelation of gender, health, and religion forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched study of governmental and extragovermental assertions of power through both ritual practices and legislative action, in particular with regard to women?s rights.

Number of Pages: 258
Genre: Social Science
Sub-Genre: Women
Series Title: Ohio University Press Polish and Polish-American Studies
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ohio Univ Pr
Author: Joanna Mishtal
Language: English
Street Date: August 25, 2015
TCIN: 17175239
UPC: 9780821421390
Item Number (DPCI): 247-02-8814
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