• First Language: Turkish

  • Subjects:  Women’s Studies

  • Journal Section: Research Article

  • Authors: Ayse DAYI

  • Dates: 1 June 2009

The U.S. Women’s Health Movement WHM , which was launched in the late 1960s and early 1970s, aimed to decrease the medicalization of women’s reproductive lives and increase women’s control over their bodies and health. Its main aim was to empower women in health services. Addressing the gap in the literature on the in-depth exploration of empowerment as it relates to the movement and as perceived by the women receiving reproductive care, I conducted a study between 2001 and 2002 that investigated the legacy of the WHM in the 21st century through the operation of two women-controlled agencies in the Northeast of U.S. My focus was on how women receiving care themselves defined and experienced empowerment as affected by agency, community, and societal factors. I found that empowerment in birth control and abortion care was experienced and defined not as control but as safety and respect. Women discussed aspects of access and service delivery characteristics mainly within the framework of respect and humane care, revealing that women receiving care recognize the ethics of care that are emphasized in feminist models of care and its intricate relation to feeling empowered. Their references to vulnerability, and judgmental, directive and inhumane care in other providers and the emphasis on safety though point to the ongoing influence of medicine and the antiabortion movement on the Women’s Health Movement and women’s sense of empowerment in reproductive health care.

women’s health movement, empowerment, abortion, birth control, ethics