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Reproductive Choices Expository Essay


Introduction

Anthropology of gender is a discourse that places focus on the social and the cultural construction of gender, and the ideologies surrounding the construction of gender. The field also features the flexibility of gender and the execution of the aspects of gender. Reproductive choices fall under the rights of individuals or groups, with regard to the subject of reproductive rights.

The entitlement to these rights fall under the lawful freedoms, related to the reproduction and the reproductive health of individuals. Reproductive choice, rests upon the regard, accorded to the basic rights of all individuals and couples, in the area of deciding liberally and responsibly, the timing, the number, and the spacing for the desired children.

Any individual is also entitled to the access to information, and the means necessary for their attainment of the highest possible standards of reproductive and sexual wellbeing. These choices, also guarantee that, any individual, will have full liberty to make any decisions about their reproductive nature, without the influence of discrimination, violence or coercion.

Some of the choices accorded, under the bracket of reproductive rights, include the choice to do a safe and legal abortion; the right to use birth control means; the right to receive superior reproductive health services; and the entitlement to access education; so as to reach informed reproductive choices.

Reproductive choices, also give individuals, the entitlement to information on STIs, contraceptives, and freedom from coerced sterilization. Reproductive choices, which fall under reproductive rights, began to be recognized as a subject under the human rights bracket, at the 1968 UN global conference on human rights (Edmeades et al., 2010; Gutmann, 1996).

Discussion

The area of reproductive choices is a central area in the study of gender anthropology, mainly because men are key contributors to the reproductive choices available to them, and their women. They also form a substantial aspect of the reproductive choice statistics.

Demonstratively, men’s reproductive health, has become a central area for development and population programs. Further, understanding the reproductive health of men, requires a clear evaluation of the biological and the cultural aspects surrounding the case.

For instance, there is an intersection between masculinity and health; as well as the availability of reproductive choices to women, with reference to their male partners.

For instance, different studies have portrayed a larger proportion of women, as not able to dictate the usage of contraceptives during lovemaking. In such cases, many of the women will cooperate with the demands of the men, though it may be putting their reproductive health on the line (La Font, 2003; Nyblade, Jeffreym, & Erin, 2010).

According to Jenkins (2006), women’s entitlement to reproductive choices is not restricted to whether or not; a woman is to continue a certain pregnancy. The available choices for the individuals in question include the capacity to choose a preferred health care administrator during pregnancy, birth, and after birth.

Some of the reproductive choices under dispute include abortion and the choice on where to give birth from. This is, especially the case, where Medicaid benefactors and other low-income earning women are deprived of the right to decide whether to use the services of a midwife; to deliver at their homes; or to use independent birth centers.

According to statistics, restrictions on women’s reproductive choices are a contagious issue – as governments try to dictate whether women may willfully terminate pregnancies, through withholding payments.

Also, governments use administrative powers to deprive low-earning women their rights, in the area of giving birth from the places, and in the way that they prefer, for example from using the services of midwives (Sinnott, 1975).

From a study carried out in India, Malhotra et al. (2009), the researchers start by noting that the ability of a woman to control their childbearing is a key component in reproductive wellbeing and rights.

In order to capture an understanding of the factors influencing women’s options regarding childbearing, the researchers explored the societal, domestic, policy-related and the service-related contexts – all surrounding the reproduction of women.

The study surveys were carried out between 2000 and 2002, to explore the following: the way in which the decision making of the women manifested determinants of contraceptive use, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, and the resolutions offered to unwanted pregnancies.

The study also evaluated the circumstances that influence the decision making of these women – showing their capability in terms of deciding and acting upon reproductive health.

From the study, the findings showed that the greater proportion of women had limited reproductive rights and choices, despite the actuality that abortion had been legalized in India since 1972. The study also, pointed out that there was an evident link between abortion and contraceptive access.

The information, further, showed that the household unit played a great role in determining the level of reproductive choices available to the women, as well as the decision-making processes. The stud, further, indicated that women’s contraceptive and abortion needs change over time, though there is an evident link between past experiences and the use of these measures.

The results also pointed out, that there was a complex interplay between women’s reproductive experiences, these including still births and mistimed pregnancies; thus their respective changes in controlling their reproduction over time.

According to a 2008 study of Australian women, done by the Marie Stopes international, Australian women were evidently, very far from realizing and controlling their reproductive health in a sound manner. The study was carried out at the Melbourne area from a study sample of 2041 women.

The results were astonishing, a case that made the organization call upon the government; urging all authorities to focus on educating Australian women on contraception education. The findings from the study showed that the larger majority of these women were using contraceptives at the time of contracting unwanted pregnancies.

From the 2041 subjects, 1033 subjects were confirmed as having gone through an unplanned pregnancy. Surprising enough, was the fact that this group had been using a range of contraceptives before and after contracting the unwanted pregnancy. This proportion represented 60% of the total study sample.

From the findings of the inquiry, it was evident that there was a need to increase the range of the contraceptive options available to Australian women. Also, investing in research to facilitate the efficacy of contraceptive use would be of chief importance – as the biggest problem explicated from the findings is – that of knowledge and education on proper use of contraceptives.

Other significant findings included that among the women who had experienced a pregnancy while using contraceptives, comprised of 43% using pills and 22% on condoms. There was also, an indication that, nearly a half of all women did not take into account, protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, during the choice of a contraceptive.

From all the subjects, one out of every ten women, were either – unable or not comfortable in asking their partners to use a condom during lovemaking. From the subjects, 36% of the women, who were not using any contraceptives at the time of the unexpected pregnancy, had not planned to have sex. The other 17% of the non-contraceptive users believed that they were infertile at the time they had sex.

The study also uncovered that 21% of the women who had experienced unwanted pregnancies, had been using more than one contraceptive method, during the time of contracting the pregnancy. In general, the information indicated that unplanned pregnancies were a key reproductive issue for Australian women – a case that truly portrays the reality of reproductive choices (Edmeades, Susan, & Anju, 2010).

From the statistics given by the Jenkins (2006), women’s reproductive choices are limited in the areas of getting an abortion done, through the delay of payments. This case clearly shows that the realization of a fully operational platform, from which reproductive choices can be exercised, has not been created.

This is especially the case, for the women who rely on accessing the health services of the government, in the areas of reproductive health. Also, from the case of Medicaid users in paying for delivery costs, it is evident that the funding system is used as a mechanism to deprive these groups of their reproductive choices.

This case simply tells of the fact that the realization of full reproductive choices, especially among low-earners has not yet been realized. From the information, it can be argued that reproductive choices are fully available, only to individuals who are able to fund their own reproductive healthcare needs.

This can be supported from the January 1997 figures, where 34 states were noted as enforcing restrictions on Medicaid financing for abortion services. Taking in the significance of this information, it is evident that state authorities are not in full support of availing full reproductive choices to the general public.

However, the question that may be put across, regarding the significance of this data, is whether the restrictions on reproductive health are only centered on the issue of funding, or if there are other areas where reproductive choices are restricted (Jenkins, 2006; Haas-Wilson, 1997).

From the statistics offered by Malhotra et al. (2009), many women in India had limited access to reproductive choices, despite the fact that abortion had been legalized many decades back, in 1972. The in-access to reproductive options, these including abortion, the choice not have children, birth control and the reproductive control measures to use, may be attributed to the gender inequalities of women in India.

Further, the cultural views of the Indians may be viewed as a contributor to the limited access and information on reproductive choices. The case of an existing link between – not accessing contraceptives and abortion facilities among Indian women may be cited to the control of men on Indian women – in the area of reproductive health and the choices to be made.

The religious and cultural observances of the Indians may also be viewed as a cause for the reproductive choice imbalance. The role of the household in determining the reproductive choices of Indian women may be traced to the common residence of the extended families, practiced in India.

This is the case, as the women within the family are subject to the directions of the family setup. As a result, most Indian women will arrive at reproductive decisions under the influence of the family setup. The changes in the needs and the patterns of the reproductive needs of Indian women may be attributed to the changing cultural affiliations as well as the shift towards modern lifestyles.

However, the question that may be put forward in this case, is whether these changing needs will serve to improve the reproductive choices of Indian women or not. The link between the women’s past and their choice of reproductive choices may be explained on the basis of the fears associated to the past experiences, as well as the knowledge gained from them.

However, the areas of choosing when to have children and the birth control models to use is a contagious subject for Indian women, considering the religious and cultural integration of the Indian society (Susan, 2010; Jenkins, 2006).

From the 2008 study on Australian women, it is evident that, the women were lacking in reproductive choice knowledge and education. Among the subjects, the only known reproductive control modes included pills and condoms, a case that shows an acute reproductive choice imbalance.

Further, the statistics indicate that there is an imminent need for societal education and sensitization on the subject of reproductive choices. The areas that may be addressed in this reproductive awareness study may include sensitization on the available range of reproductive choices, as well as the proper usage of these choices.

This is evident from the information, which indicates that – even the subjects using such control measures were using them ineffectively or incorrectly. However, the study did not account for the groups surveyed, as considering the statistics of the study, the data may indicate that the subjects comprised of non-learned women (Malhotra et al., 2009).

Conclusion

Reproductive choices fall under the rights of individuals, in the aspect being able to choose a reproductive control model of their choice, deciding when to give birth, the number of children to get and the spacing to be used. From different studies, it is possible to tell that a disparity between the choices of the individual in reproductive choice may be greatly influenced by their cultural association.

Family setups and affiliations, also, constitute a substantial determinant in dictating the reproductive measures or the choices made. This case is evident from the study on the Indian women group. The lack of knowledge and education, also play a great role in determining the reproductive choices available to an individual, as well as different groups. This was the case from the study on Australian women.

From the study, it is clear that awareness and education in reproductive choices has a long way to go, before major groups within the society are addressed. Further, coercion into reproductive choices is still evident, as the case was with the Medicaid users.

Some of the areas that need to be understood and addressed extensively, towards the realization of an effective reproductive choice knowledge include the following: educating women on their autonomy regarding their reproductive choices, and informing them of their entitlement to such choices as well.

References

Edmeades, J., Susan, L., & Anju, M. (2010). Women and Reproductive Control: The Nexus between Abortion and Contraceptive Use in Madhya Pradesh, India. Studies in Family Planning, 41 (2), 75-88.

Edmeades, J et al. (2010). Methodological Innovation in Studying Abortion in Developing Countries: A ‘Narrative’ Quantitative Survey in India. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 4 (3), 176-198.

Gutmann, M. (1996). The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Haas-Wilson, D. (1997). Women’s reproductive choices: the impact of Medicaid funding restrictions. Fam Plann Perspect, 29 (5), 228-33.

Jenkins, S. (2006). Expanding Reproductive Choice. Retrieved from

La Font, S. (2003). Constructing Sexualities: Readings in Sexuality, Gender and Culture. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Malhotra, A et al. (2009). Women’s Reproductive Choices and Behaviors: A Study in Madhya Pradesh, India. Retrieved from

Nyblade, L., Jeffreym, E., & and Erin, P. (2010). Measuring Self-Reported Abortion- Related Morbidity: A Comparison of Measures in Madhya Pradesh, India. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 36 (3), 140-148.

Sinnott, M. (1975). Toms and Dees: transgender identity and female same-sex relationships in Thailand. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press.

Susan, M. (2010). Women’s Empowerment and Reproductive Experiences over the Lifecourse. Social Science & Medicine, 71 (3), 634-642.

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"Reproductive Choices." IvyPanda, 7 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/reproductive-choices/.

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IvyPanda. "Reproductive Choices." December 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reproductive-choices/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Reproductive Choices." December 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reproductive-choices/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Reproductive Choices'. 7 December.

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