Access to reproductive options for women with intellectual disabilities
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2013
Trainee Grants
Nechama Greenwood, CPM, BS
Boston Medical Center

Women with intellectual disabilities (ID) face significant barriers to accessing reproductive health care options, including contraception and abortion. Though reducing health disparities for adults with ID has emerged as an important public health priority, disparities in reproductive health care access remain largely unaddressed, and somewhat taboo, even among disability researchers. The existing literature has focused on the perspective of support workers and family members, with little attention to the needs, preferences and experiences of women with ID, themselves. Women with ID are also traditionally under-represented in research, and may need special supports in order to fully participate. The proposed qualitative study, Access to Reproductive Options for Women with Intellectual Disabilities, will examine the perceptions, needs and experiences of women with ID regarding reproductive health care, and will explore barriers and facilitators to full access to reproductive rights for women with ID, in their own words. We will use participatory research methods designed to maximize voice for people with ID, including Photo Voice, an innovative qualitative research method where participants are given cameras and become co-researchers on the project as they photographically document their perspectives. We will also conduct 15-25 qualitative interviews with women with ID regarding their contraception needs, desires and experiences. Data collected during this study will be used as pilot data for future research, and will guide future research and interventions to increase access to contraception and abortion for this population.