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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perceptions and reality of reproductive rights, health and choice in northern Chile Belliveau, Laura Anne


Women in Chile continue to face various forms of gender discrimination and oppression, especially in regards to their reproductive rights and autonomy over their own bodies. This thesis investigates ideas of reproductive rights, health and choice in Northern Chile with a focus on working class women’s access to reproductive health services within public health facilities. A mixed methods approach was used within a feminist framework using qualitative methodologies including Progressive Verification Method (PVM) and Critical Methodology (CM). Single semi structured interviews were conducted with a total of eleven participants (five health professionals and six working class women) residing in Iquique, a city in Northern Chile. Working class women’s perceptions and realities in regards to topics surrounding reproduction are analyzed within the context of neoliberalism, medicalization, marianismo and other mechanisms of institutional domination and control such as bureaucratic processes. It was found that for women with less financial means there still exists more of an “illusion” of access to reproductive technologies and services, including contraceptives and therapeutic abortion, rather than literal access. This is largely due to bureaucratic roadblocks which are reinforced by neoliberal and classist ideologies. When examining the lived reality of working class women in contemporary Iquique, it was found that women are shifting away from traditionalist patterns when making decisions about marriage and motherhood, although ideas of reproduction and reproductive responsibility remain highly feminized.

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