Lynn M. Morgan

“Reproductive Governance in Mexico and Central America”

“I’ve been working here at SAR on changes in reproductive health policy in Latin America over the last ten to fifteen years or so. The changes that have been going on in reproductive health policy have been dramatic and very quick and very transformative for the society, or societies, as a whole, and have been making an enormous difference in the lives of women and men in those societies. So I’ve been interested in documenting as a social scientist how those changes are happening and why they’re happening the way they are, which in many cases is quite different from what might be expected given the political parties that are in office in the countries where these things are transpiring.”

From the Interview

“There’s a lot of tension between certain kinds of socioeconomic changes that are going on in the region [Latin America] and an effort to control people’s health, to control people’s fertility both through migration and through changes in the labor force, changes in health care which involve the privatization of health services and also the introduction of different kinds of technologies—pharmaceutical technologies and infertility technologies and so forth that are available. So all these things have changed and made the picture much more complex than it ever was in the past, and this is what we mean by the term ‘reproductive governance’: trying to put the profile of reproductive health into a larger context of these changes that are occurring in the region.”

Why does your work matter?

“As a phrase, ‘human rights’ has a very different kind of valance in Latin American countries that have come out of military dictatorships or civil war. A ‘right to life’ may refer to ‘my right not to be killed by the military,’ rather than to the ‘right to life’ of a fetus.”“There are in Latin America about 280 million women and girls, and it’s really only in the last ten or fifteen years that the issue of reproductive health and reproductive rights has started to emerge into public consciousness as a matter of debate. … The work that I’m trying to do is to take a step back from that advocacy position and to try and understand what’s going on in terms of a larger context. It’s not just about whether women do or do not get the right to particular kinds of health services. It’s about how this happens in a context in which they’re also being asked to participate more frequently in the labor force, in which they’re being asked to help make their families better either by staying back at home while men migrate to other countries, sometimes to the United States, to work, or they themselves are migrating north and south to work and to try and better the circumstances for themselves and their families. So it’s a really critical issue.”

Find out more about Lynn M. Morgan by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

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