Women’s health ideological & political issue – Piotr Zuk & Pawel Zuk

Zuk, P. & Zuk, P. (2017). Women’s health as an ideological and political issue: Restricting the right to abortion, access to in vitro fertilization procedures, and prenatal testing in Poland. Health Care for Women International, 38(7), 689-704. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2017.1322595


This article illustrates the ways in which conservative religious ideology can be politicized and weaponized to limit reproductive rights. Detailing the evolution (or devolution) of access to reproductive health services in Poland, many connections can be made to the current state and perhaps the future of reproductive healthcare access in the United States.

I was interested in the “discourses of power” (690) utilized by the religious and conservative interest groups mentioned throughout the article. Particularly, the ways in which particular rhetorics are used to demonize any reproductive health service, not just abortion. Using phrases like “culture of death” (contrasted by the phrase “civilization of life”) and “gender ideology,” these conservative forces construct a moral good and evil. In thinking about readings on populism, it’s easy to see how this type of rhetoric can be wielded by populist regimes. The article states that “proposals that promote women’s rights are treated almost as if they would result in a loss of national identity.”  Thus again, women’s reproductive healthcare has been politicized in a way that can be used to further a conservative populist agenda (RE: Aysin-Düzgit & Keyman’s characteristics of populism).

This article also provides an interesting perspective to the issues that “conflicts of consciousness” pose to reproductive healthcare as discussed by Heino, Gissler, Apter, and Fiala (2013).