Encounters with the state: a study of pathways to pregnancy prevention and termination in Phoenix, Arizona

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This research project analyzes women’s dynamic pathways to pregnancy prevention and termination in Arizona. Two levels of analysis guide the study: The first is a cultural analysis of the socio-legal

This research project analyzes women’s dynamic pathways to pregnancy prevention and termination in Arizona. Two levels of analysis guide the study: The first is a cultural analysis of the socio-legal conditions that shape the channels to birth control and abortion. During this historical moment, I analyze the fight over increasing (and calls for more) legal constraints against contraception and abortion, coupled with decreasing individual access to reproductive health care information and services. This dissertation includes an examination of the struggle over reproductive health on the ground and in the legal arena, and real pushbacks against these constraints as well. The second is an analysis of how women seek out contraception or abortion within the US socio-legal landscape. The study qualitatively examines narratives from 33 women in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, a region emblematic of the political contest over the legal regulation of women’s reproductive health currently unfolding nationally. Ultimately, the state is implicated in the various resources and barriers—people, places, processes and policies—that inform women’s pregnancy prevention. These experiences can illuminate the ways that reproductive health care is shaped by intersecting and sometimes competing ideologies, and how women encounter them in their daily lives. The study theorizes the embodiment of women’s local encounters with the state within a cultural context of contested law and policy reform.