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Abstract

The separation of church and state has been indicated in the United States Constitution since the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Ideally, this was intended to ensure that no one religion would receive privilege over another in the political arena, and that citizens have the freedom to practice their own faith without fear of persecution. In contemporary United States, religion has become a powerful influence in modern day politics and the line distinguishing church from state has become hazy. This is especially prevalent in the realm of reproductive rights. The fight for access to reproductive healthcare, such as contraception and safe, legal abortions, become more combative, as proven by the “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” dichotomy. The implication that being pro-choice means you do not believe in the sanctity of life, while being pro-life means that you do not believe women should have control of their own bodies, increasingly alienates more and more people who are able to see the complexities surrounding abortion. Unfortunately, it is not just United States citizens that are affected by changes in policies surrounding family planning; it is also women in developing countries who have even less access to these services than we do. This paper addresses the complexities that come with the Catholic Church participating in politics, in addition to examining the way Catholicism and conflicting ideologies surrounding female reproductive health affect the United States and other cultures worldwide.