Resistance to Sexual and Reproductive Rights: Maternalism and Conservatism

  • Gabriela Alvarez Minte
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


Using an analysis of the processes to increase access to sex education, emergency contraception, and abortion, this chapter argues that the legacies of conservative policies, as well as the power of a conservative elite and the Catholic Church, have succeeded in hindering access to sexual and reproductive rights. This position was achieved by using maternalism as a focus of the conservative movement, appealing to motherhood in order to maintain the sexual division of labor and traditional family roles in Chile. Responding to a push for progressive policies in the 1990s, a conservative Catholic moral agenda has been used in formal and informal arenas to influence state policies and legislative processes. Conservative Catholic groups within the Church have been successful in entering the elite, including conservative business owners who have used their position to resist these policies. This resistance is based on ideas of gender and families within a biological or “natural” framework that determine the roles and relationships within families, a fixation with a heterosexual nuclear family and an understanding of motherhood within the principles institutionalized by the dictatorship in the Constitution of 1980, with a maternalist discourse that links reproduction with traditional relations in families and assigns identities to women as mothers and as caregivers.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriela Alvarez Minte
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxfam InternationalOxfordUK

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