Abstract: Contributions to reproductive politics by women from the Global South have articulated that reproductive bodies are embedded with social and political meaning (Roberts, 2005). Such theorizations also show that laws, policies, and cultural or religious practices are frequently shaped by neo-liberal understandings of reproductive “choice” and convey how particular women’s bodies and lives are perceived and valued, both as individuals and communities. As a result, in my own research on globalization and reproductive health, I am compelled to investigate the ways in which global capitalist ideologies migrate across boundaries and how they shape reproductive choice both in theory and practice. Using data collected during research with a reproductive health NGO in Dublin, Ireland, the Irish Family Planning Association, I explore the impact of consumer based notions of “choice” on reproductive rights in Ireland within the context of globalization and the period known as the Celtic Tiger. I investigate notions of reproductive choice informed by global capitalism, as they pertain to individuals and communities living in Ireland who lack the power and resources necessary to carry out the reproductive health choices they want to make. I attempt to shed light on how women’s lives and bodies, whose movement to and within Ireland is restricted (such as refugee and asylum seeking women, poor women, or women who are under the care of the State), sit at a nexus of movement, consumption, and choice.
Abstract: Women’s reproductive health needs and desires – as well as their very understanding of what constitutes reproductive health – are shaped by nationality, race, class, ethnicity, religion and culture. For ethnic, religious and linguistic minority and indigenous women, there is often a wide gap between how they would best like their self-identified reproductive health needs to be met, and the services that they receive, thanks to the intersecting and overlapping discrimination that they face as women, and as members of minority and indigenous groups. This can range from poor or culturally inappropriate provision of services in the areas that they live, to outright denial of access to reproductive healthcare. Poverty further compounds this discrimination for many minority and indigenous women, leading to high rates of maternal and infant mortality, and other poor reproductive health outcomes, in comparison to majority groups. In addition, in some cases, minority and indigenous women have been specifically targeted for programmes aimed at reducing the number of births in a given community.
Reproductive politics are embedded with social meaning and carry symbolic weight. Feminist scholars and activists since the Second Wave have pointed out how women’s bodies and sexuality, at particular moments in time, become battlegrounds of ideology. Furthermore, laws, policies, and cultural or religious practices convey how particular women’s bodies and lives are perceived and valued as individuals and communities. In reality, sexual and reproductive health matters for diverse groups of women are subtle and complex.
For these reasons, we can see that in times of political re-negotiation, such as presidential elections, there exists a great concentration of discussion around the meaning of reproductive choice. This focus on notions of choice is reflected in discourse in mainstream as well as in alternative feminist outlets. Implicit in discourses of reproductive choice runs a pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy which keeps debate centered on abortion and halts discussion of women’s sexual and reproductive health beyond a single issue.
Using the 2008 presidential election as a critical context, I explore the multiple ways that notions of reproductive choice are constructed and how they maintain women’s bodies as vessels of ideological meaning. I look specifically at responses to both the unintended pregnancy of the Republican vice-presidential candidate’s daughter and the discussion of abortion in the third presidential debate in order to investigate various emerging discourses. This focus enables me to highlight the discourses that entrench the pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy and illuminate the cooptation of pro-choice language by the conservative right to justify an anti-choice agenda. I examine how, within these contexts, the experiences and needs of marginalized groups, such as women of color, immigrant women, or LGBTQI people, remained invisible under a polarized pro-choice/pro-life discourse. I argue that it is critical for feminists, at exactly these moments, to pro-actively assert a reproductive justice framework to link together the complex web of issues that inform sexual and reproductive health for diverse groups of women and move to the fore a more nuanced understanding of these matters.
This article examines aspects of feminist methodology pertinent to carrying out transnational research within an era of globalization. I explore the use of self-reflexivity, engagement with conceptualizations of insider/outsider, and the employment of feminist critiques of notions of objectivity within the research process as feminist methodological tools relevant to transnational feminist research. I argue that in an age of globalization, such methodological frameworks and tools are necessary in research committed to feminist contestations of globalization in that the nature of transnational research sustains an ever dynamic and shifting landscape of personal, political, and geographical relationships. This article draws upon my experiences carrying out transnational research in Ireland and the United States for my PhD dissertation between 2003 and 2007.
Keywords: transnational research, transnational feminism, feminist methodology
This article explores the relationship between globalisation and development, recent trends in migration, and the changing face of reproductive health services and needs in the Republic of Ireland. Using the Irish Family Planning Association as a case, I demonstrate that newly emerging migration patterns impact on the administrative and clinic-based work of non-government organisations (NGOs) working on reproductive health in Ireland. These patterns are challenging and re-shaping the policy and practices of such organisations, as they address the different needs of women living in Ireland.