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Religion and Reproductive Politics in the United States

Religion and Reproductive Politics in the United States focuses primarily on how Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish conversations about sexuality and reproduction have shaped access to and attitudes towards reproductive health in the US over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Jews and Catholics provide an excellent way to think about how religious law/theology and religious practice/community needs diverge. Attention to Jewish thought on contraception, abortion, and reproduction helps to denaturalize any number of Christian assumptions about reproductive ethics that dominate the discourse in the US. While the course focuses on the three religious groups who were allowed to be policy influencers in the US political debate, the course allows students space to consider how other religious groups (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Indigenous) have interacted with and been affected by the dominant religious voices. By comparing the role of religion in US debates about reproduction to the Israeli version of those conversations, students will come to understand how these debates play out in another soil where the religious commitments are in some ways more embedded but also much more liberal on issues like abortion.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Samira Mehta

University of Colorado, Boulder

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, Women's Studies, Other

Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Judaism, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Family/Children/Reproduction, Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Popular Culture/Media/Music/Sports, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars

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