Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2011

Capstone Advisor

Hans Peter Schmitz, Associate Professor

Honors Reader

Mauricio Paredes, Director of SU Abroad in Santiago

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Latin American Studies



Women’s reproductive rights, particularly the rights to contraceptives and abortions, have been a contentious issue that often divides people into different political spectrums. The objective of this research was to examine women’s rights to contraception and abortion inChileandSpain. The majority of the population in these two countries is Roman Catholic (94% inSpainand 70% inChile). Both countries ratified the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as signed the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW. This research was based on an extensive review of literature that involved documents from government and non-government agencies, theVaticanwebsite, university libraries, peer-reviewed journals, newspapers and magazine articles. The first part of this research presents the theoretical framework, a historical perspective of the UN policies, and the doctrine of the Catholic Church on birth control and abortion. Then, this work investigates the policies and laws on contraception and abortion inChileandSpain. Lastly, variables or factors affecting the reform of women’s rights to contraception and abortion policy in both countries are discussed. Based on the assessment, it was concluded that women’s reproductive rights policy reform in both countries has been influenced mainly by democratization and regional integration. Other factors are either weakly correlated (CEDAW, income inequality) or ultimately dependent in their influence on region and democratization levels (religion, feminist movements). The biggest factors influencing the women’s rights reform in Spain have been democratization and regional location, followed by feminist movement and international pressure; whereas Chile has had influence mainly from democratization and regional location, followed by the Catholic Church and its affiliated organizations, income inequality, and international pressure. The study found that policy reforms of women’s rights to contraception and abortion occurred at a much faster pace inSpainthan inChile. Spainhas a formal network of family planning throughout the country, contraceptives and emergency conception can be easily obtained, and the law allows abortions on demand providing some restrictions are met. The country is now in line with other countries in the European Union. Chile, on the other hand, still lags behind in women’s reproductive rights. The country continues to maintain an absolute ban on abortion, contraceptives and the morning-after pill are more difficult to obtain and unaffordable for the poor, and there is neither a formal network of family planning nor sex education in schools.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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