A COMPARISON OF CULTURAL CONSTRAINTS ON THE ABILITY OF WOMEN TO MAKE DECISIONS ON ABORTION AMONG HISPANIC, MIDDLE EASTERN, AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES
This research examines cultural constraints influencing decisions by women in relation to abortion. A focus of this examination is on such cultural constraints that apply to women who are members of specific ethnic population groups in the United States, with a special emphasis on women whose ethnic origins are Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian.
Culture may be described as the ideals, values, norms, and assumptions about life that are widely shared among a group of people. While these traits may not be apparent to persons outside the cultural group, the traits are integrated into all activities of the life of a person who is a member of the cultural group. Thus, these traits provide the basis for how decisions are made and problems are solved by persons who are members of the cultural group. Cultural traits are learned at both conscious and unconscious levels. The learning process begins during the early socialization process of a person when family and community members transmit the essential traits of the culture to help the child survive in society (Triandis 9).
Acceptable behavior within a cultural group is determined by norms, which are the unwritten rules of the culture that are transmitted through cultural rites, rituals, and sanctions that indicate when a cultural norm has been violated. Cultural assumptions are the fundamental beliefs that underlie the decisions and actions taken by members of a cultural group. Cultural assumptions are more deep-seated than are cultural norms. Thus, cultural assumptions are more ingrained and more difficult to change than are cultural norms (Smith and Bond 43). A woman considering abortion, therefore, must weigh her individual desires related to the abortion against any cultural sanct...