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Lopez, Iris. “An Ethnography of Puerto Rican Women’s Reproduction.” In Pragmatic Women and Body Politics, 240–59. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


In this chapter Lopez examines the connection between "agency" and "constraints" that influence Puerto Rican women's reproductive behavior and both shape and limit their fertility options. Her research provides some understanding to why New York City has the highest documented rate of sterilization by sharing her participants sterilization experiences and the context within which they make their fertility decisions. Lopez argues that sterilization historical has been and continues to be a form of oppression for Puerto Rican women and by denying them their individual rights, they are also being denied the basic right to reproductive freedom. Lopez collected data through participant observation, oral histories, and an in-depth survey of selected sample of Puerto Rican women. The survey contained 200 open-ended and closed questions and was taken in both English and Spanish by 128 Puerto Rican women, ninety-six of whom were sterilized. The findings reveal that some women were sterilized to accommodate their family's needs and to not exceed a certain amount of children, while others were influenced by societal, political and economic factors such as their husband’s direct influence to undergo sterilization, or by healthcare providers who did not provide alternative options or misinformed their client.  


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Race/ethnicity: Latina/Hispanic   Sterilization