Where We Stand

By researching and interpreting issues of Puerto Rican women’s health and reproductive constraints in Brooklyn, we have gained several new frameworks through which to view structural health inequities. We agree with Iris López that standard binary conceptions of what and whom a victim is are incomplete and unreliable in trying to understand and analyze concepts of free will, choice, and constraints upon that choice.

The absence of mainstream media coverage about Latina women in current birth control debates strikes us as an intriguing and telling demonstration of who news is focusing on and why. By not reporting on these “minority” groups and their place within fertility decision making, whether intentionally or not, new outlets contribute to silencing of a community.

Viewing these salient issues of women’s reproductive rights and abilities to make choices concerning their own health and bodies through an anthropological lens enables us to draw conclusions that may not otherwise be reached. Complex relationships between agency and constraints cannot be analyzed in a simplified manner without continuing to silence those involved, and we believe anthropology can be used to approach this interplay in a dynamic and humanistic way.