Telling Their Stories: Puerto Rican Women and Abortion

By Jean P. Peterman | Go to book overview

About the Book and Author

Abortion and the right of a woman to control her fertility cross boundaries of race, ethnicity, and social class. In this revealing and in-depth study, Jean P. Peterman focuses on a group of Puerto Rican women in Chicago whose decisions about abortion highlight the contradictions between the sexually conservative ethnic and religious beliefs of this community and the fact that Latina women (including Puerto Rican women) have abortions at a rate one and a half times as high as nonLatinas.

For more than half the women Peterman interviewed, their decision to have an abortion allowed them to maintain opportunities for themselves or to resist male control. Despite their resistance to traditional gender roles, their Puerto Rican identity remains strong.

The term "cultural story," coined by sociologist Laurel Richardson, explains how cultures create and support their social worlds -- their cultural and social frameworks as well as beliefs about home, community, sex roles, and family. A "collective story" is an oppositional story -- a form of resistance and a catalyst for change.

In this book, the stories recounted by these women involve struggles against barriers instrinsic to their social structure, such as poverty, prejudice, and discrimination, that ultimately shape newfound feelings of independence, inner strength, and control over their own fertility and their lives.

Jean P. Peterman is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy at Chicago State University

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