“Living out loud is not easy:” Reproductive justice and power across the lifespan
Background: Women in South Carolina face exacerbated reproductive health disparities. Further, vulnerable populations, including low-income women and women of color, experience these disparities at double the rate of their White counterparts. An inequitable distribution of power threatens women’s access to care. Reproductive justice aims to situate women at the center of their reproductive health narratives. Methods: Researchers conducted 70 in-depth interviews with women ages 18 and older in South Carolina. Interviews were analyzed through a constant comparative method using qualitative analysis software HyperRESEARCH 3.7.3. The Reproductive justice framework and theory of power provided the conceptual lenses for data analysis. Results: Participants maintained agency over their lives when permitted to make autonomous reproductive health decisions, allowing them to “live out loud.” However, participants suggested that the right to reproductive health care access and knowledge, including “choice,” is situated and influenced by the sociocultural environment and current imbalanced power structures. Participants recognized the intersectional impacts of marginalizing factors including race, gender, and class on access to reproductive health care. Conclusions: Findings from this study uncover South Carolina women’s barriers to reproductive care, exposing systemic issues impacting reproductive health care to more comprehensively address health disparities.