Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts and Science)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Steven Lovell-Jones & Dr Christine de Matos

Second Supervisor

Dr Michael Casey


Histories of the pro-life movement are surprisingly absent from both historical and social scientific research, something that is remarkable given the movement’s often contentious and sometimes decisive role in contemporary politics. Certainly, there is an enormous body of work engaging with arguments for and against the pro-life position and attendant issues, but as far as histories of the movement are concerned there seems to be a distinct absence of literature. Indeed, until recently, anything like an extended and scholarly engagement with the pro-life movement has been markedly absent throughout the English-speaking world, though this lack has begun to be addressed, notably in the United States. Even so, the number of these works is scant in comparison to other topics in the study of contemporary history.

The present thesis addresses this deficiency in that it sets itself to present a history of one part of the contemporary pro-life movement in Sydney: Family Life International. While not claiming to be an exhaustive history of Family Life International, the present thesis is nonetheless unique in that – to the best of the researcher’s knowledge – it would appear that there is no other extended academic study detailing the history (which one might refer to as a microhistory) of the Catholic pro-life movement in Sydney, or, indeed, in Australia.

It might be thought that the history of the pro-life movement would be informed and shaped by forces external to the churches, not least because the greater amount of voices in the pro-life movement come from religious circles, usually Christian circles, and more specifically Catholic circles. But what this thesis aims to answer is the question as to what is the greater influence on the formation of the identity of the Sydney Catholic pro-life movement, particularly Family Life International: is it forces external to the pro-life movement in general and to the Catholic Church in particular, or is it forces internal?