Objective: Prior qualitative research with women incarcerated at Rikers Island Jail asked women to anticipate their future contraceptive needs and pregnancy desires upon re-entering the community. We conduct this follow-up study to understand better the actual contraceptive needs and pregnancy desires experienced by women after incarceration.
Study Design: We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews in New York City in 2014 with 10 women incarcerated within the past three years. We coded transcripts using an iterative process, identified emerging themes, and stopped recruitment after reaching thematic saturation.
Results: Most participants desired to wait to become pregnant until they had stable housing, income, and employment. A few faced systemic barriers to obtaining contraception, including the process of re-applying for insurance and obtaining medical appointments. For many, incarceration disrupted their use of contraception, insurance status, and relationship with trusted medical providers. Most women lacked trust in the new health professionals they encountered after incarceration.
Conclusions: Incarceration disrupted medical care in general, and contraceptive care in particular. Assistance should be provided to re-apply for insurance, make appointments, and support women to see trusted health professionals.
Implications: Incarceration further disenfranchises an already marginalized community through disrupting access to medical care and constrains women’s reproductive autonomy long after return to the community.