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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women choosing not to have children : implications for social work practice and policy on reproductive choice McCarthy, Claire Louise


The purpose of this research study was to explore the relationship between women who have chosen not to have children and one specific area of social policy, that of reproductive choice. Attitudes toward and access to voluntary sterilization and abortion were emphasized. A feminist qualitative research approach was used in this study. Based on interviews with ten childfree women and five community agency representatives/professionals, this research explored the experiences and attitudes of childfree women and community representatives toward voluntary sterilization and abortion. A substantive and theoretical coding process was used for data analysis. The results of this research indicate a discrepancy between what these childfree women expected from the process of obtaining a tubal ligation or abortion versus what actually happened to many of them in their contact with the medical profession. In particular, access to more information and the right to make an autonomous decision became poignant concerns in the study. Balancing the rights of women to voluntarily access abortion and sterilization against the rights of other women to not be coerced to have an abortion or tubal ligation is a challenge for our society. Social workers have a significant role to play both in terms of clinical work in the health field and at the social policy level to ensure that all women have the opportunity to make autonomous reproductive choices.

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