The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

Pregnant, Uninsured, and Undocumented: Prenatal Care for Immigrant Women in South Texas

K. Jill Fleuriet

Prenatal care has been shown to improve maternal and birth outcomes, reduce birth- and birth-related morbidity costs, and serve as a means to link medically needy children with health and health care resources. Yet prenatal care options for uninsured, low-income undocumented immigrant women living in the United States are insufficient and frequently inaccessible. In this paper, I use qualitative research to detail and assess U.S. prenatal care experiences among undocumented immigrant women from Mexico. I situate their experiences in the larger context of publicly supported prenatal care in the United States for undocumented immigrant women. I argue that policies targeting undocumented immigrants and low-income pregnant women are misdirected and ineffective because they stem from hegemonic political discourse rather than actual medical needs. I conclude with recommendations to amend policy in order to incorporate prenatal care preferences and expressed needs of undocumented immigrant women. [prenatal care, immigration, reproductive rights, U.S. health care policy]

The Applied Anthropologist, No. 1, Vol. 29, 2009, pp 4 - 21

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