POVERTY AND PROCREATION AMONG WOMEN: An Anthropologic Study with Implications for Health Care Providers


  • Cheryl M. Killion RN, PhD

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Cheryl M. Killion is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. She received her master of science degree in maternal child nursing from the University of Colorado and her doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

1Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 400 North Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0482.


In this article, select findings from a 5-year ethnographic study of homeless, pregnant women in Southern California pinpointed the contextual constraints, along with individual factors, that framed the women's reproductive options and actions. The women had very little choice in the timing, the place, the partner, and the circumstances surrounding conception. Factors contributing to their becoming pregnant were the woman's victimization, economic survival, lack of access to contraceptives, uncertain fertility, desire for intimacy, and hope for the future. Findings suggest that even if the women were able to establish reproductive goals and had the wherewithal to acquire and effectively use contraceptives, situational constraints (homelessness, pregnancy, poverty, contraception, fertility patterns) might still prevent their success. © 1998 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.