?It Wouldn?t Change a Thing?: The Role of Identity Politics and Gender Politics in Mexican-American Women?s Decision-Making Experiences about Prenatal Testing



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This dissertation explores Mexican-American women?s experiences with prenatal testing, more specifically the amniocentesis procedure. Utilizing health communication theories and Chicana feminist theories as my theoretical lenses, I explored the social construction of the amniocentesis procedure for Mexican-American women, as well as the role of their family members and healthcare providers in their decision-making processes. An intersectional feminist thematic analysis was conducted of 30 semistructured, in-depth interviews with Mexican-American women between the ages of 30 to 45 in Houston, Texas and San Diego, California.

Ten themes emerged from the data and presented a portrait of the information processing and decision-making processes that the participants went through as they deliberated whether to undergo the amniocentesis procedure. Of the 30 participants, only one underwent the amniocentesis procedure; the other 29 participants refused the amniocentesis procedure because it would not change the outcome of their pregnancy, because they did not see a need for the information the amniocentesis could provide, and because their families would support them in their decision to not abort a child with a disability. Moreover, participants noted that their spouses and family members were very encouraging during their decision-making processes, which further solidified their decision to reject the amniocentesis procedure. Lastly, participants spoke of their physicians? role in the amniocentesis, and most noted that their physicians supported their decision. Participants preferred physicians who spoke to them in a caring manner and disliked when their physicians did not explain health-related information with them or take the time to establish a relationship with them.

These findings provide a new snapshot of what the amniocentesis experience is like for Mexican-American women. Participants refused the amniocentesis, but not for reasons that have been supported in past academic literature. Moreover, participants provided a new conceptualization of what a ?healthy baby? is and looks like?a fetal anomaly or congenital disorder was not framed as negative, unhealthy, or undesirable. This conceptualization of ?what a healthy baby is? was situated within sociocultural factors such as family support, strong spiritual values, and a maternal/fetal fusion with their children. Lastly, given the delicate nature of this prenatal procedure, physicians should be more empathetic and more caring. This communication style would make patients more comfortable and create a more satisfying healthcare experience.