Reproductive autonomy and family planning practices of Muslim migrant women in the United States
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2020
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Zahra Goliaei, MD, MPH
University of California, Merced

This proposed study is part of the applicant’s doctoral dissertation. Prior to entering the United States, she worked as a physician in Iran, where she began engaging with women’s family planning challenges. After moving to the US, she worked on health outcomes of refugees and conducted workshops on pre-post-natal care and family planning, for pregnant refugee women. Recently, she joined the Refugee Reproductive Health Network, which aims to increase refugee women’s knowledge and role in their own reproductive needs including accessing contraception of choice.

This study will examine reproductive autonomy “the power to decide and control matters associated with contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing”, with contraception and abortion practices among Muslim immigrant women in the United States. Women with higher reproductive autonomy have been shown to have high rates of contraceptive use, as well as the ability to negotiate sex and condom use with their partners. This study will culturally adapt, and then pilot, the existing reproductive autonomy scale in order to assess reproductive autonomy and its potential association with modern contraceptive and abortion use. While there are studies on women’s empowerment in the Muslim majority countries, there are no published studies in the US. Findings from this study will help to identify interventions and policies capable of increasing reproductive health consciousness among Muslim immigrant women, in order to help them engage in informed decision-making regarding abortion, contraception, and other reproductive health issues.