Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis



First Advisor

Erica Gibson


This thesis is based on anthropological research conducted with Mexican and Salvadoran women living in the Washington Metropolitan area, regarding the support and obstacles they have faced when attempting to access reproductive health care services. Results are based on focus groups and individual interviews held with first and second-generation Latina immigrants as well as reproductive health care advocates and health care providers. Particular attention is paid to prenatal care and childbirth, although family planning is also addressed. Focus groups included screening and discussing short documentary film clips that portrayed various approaches to reproductive health care. Results suggest that immigrant participants in this research prefer the safety they associate with a hospital-based, physician assisted birth. However, most participants have experienced difficulties due to language limitations, inconsistent care, uncompassionate care, and lack of information regarding the availability of services. Community-based family support services and clinics have been successful in reducing some of these difficulties, although time and financial limitations still present barriers. Conclusions include suggestions in response to the call by all three groups for consistent and compassionate care achievable through trusting patient-provider relationships. Ultimately, larger structural changes regarding health care provision and hospital regulations are needed to fully meet the reproductive health needs of Latina women in the Washington Metropolitan area and to provide a satisfactory experience.


© 2011, Jessica Bichler