Card image cap
Card image cap

Access to reproductive healthcare in a migratory context: Pathways of immigrant women who want to control their fertility in Quebec

Audrey Gonin, Sabrina Zennia, Paule Lespérance, Marie-Amélie St-Pierre, Marianne Rodrigue

Research framework: Access to the healthcare system is a key issue for women who wish to exercise control over their fertility. In fact, access to medicalized female contraceptive methods and abortion can prevent or terminate unwanted pregnancies without the need for negotiation with partners. However, the recent immigrant population has generally more difficulty accessing care, which raises specific issues for immigrant women’s right to reproductive health.

Objective: This research examines the experiences of immigrant women who have been living in Montreal for less than 10 years, in an effort to better understand the barriers to accessing medical contraception and abortion that may exist for this population.

Methodology: The testimonies of 12 women born on 4 different continents were analyzed using Lévesque et al.’s model of access to care (2013) and transnational perspective. The latter takes into account the influence of these women’s migratory paths, both in terms of their previous life experiences and the links with their country of birth, which remain and are also transformed.

Results: The pathways through which the immigrant women interviewed access (or do not access) reproductive health resources, with a focus on reproductive autonomy, are quite arduous despite their willingness to access them and their ability to seek them. In addition, our participants had mixed experiences with the services they received once they had managed to get through the doors of health care institutions. The main issues identified by women interviewed were a lack of listening, caring and time spent explaining the different options, as well as giving them the space to make an informed decision about their contraceptive method.

Contribution: In light of the limited knowledge available in Quebec on the issue of immigrant women’s access to contraception and abortion, this research reports on the obstacles encountered by women who arrived in Canada less than 10 years ago. Compared to research conducted internationally or in other Canadian provinces, our research provides a more detailed understanding of the expectations that may exist regarding reproductive health services. The transnational framework makes visible issues that tend to go unnoticed by focusing solely on the host society. In particular, it makes visible the opportunities induced by the bicultural position of people with a migratory background.