Matters of Choice

Puerto Rican Women's Struggle for Reproductive Freedom

By Iris Ofelia Lopez
(Rutgers University Press, Paperback, 9780813543734, 184pp.)

Publication Date: December 2008

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Description
Sterilization remains one of the most popular forms of fertility control in the world, but it has received little acknowledgment for decreasing birthrates on account of its dubious use as a means of population control, especially in developing countries.

In Matters of Choice, Iris Lopez presents a comprehensive analysis of the dichotomous views that have portrayed sterilization either as part of a coercive program of population control or as a means of voluntary, even liberating, fertility control by individual women. Drawing upon her twenty-five years of research on sterilized Puerto Rican women from five different families in Brooklyn, Lopez untangles the interplay between how women make fertility decisions and their social, economic, cultural, and historical constraints. Weaving together the voices of these women, she covers the history of sterilization and eugenics, societal pressures to have fewer children, a lack of adequate health care, patterns of gender inequality, and misinformation provided by doctors and family members.

Lopez makes a stirring case for a model of reproductive freedom, taking readers beyond victim/agent debates to consider a broader definition of reproductive rights within a feminist anthropological context.

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