With the term ‘vulnerable groups’, we include women who may be facing special challenges due to their life situation. We are focusing on the experiences and perspectives of women with a history of migration and/or being refugees, women with undocumented status and women who were experiencing violence in their relationship at the time of the unintended pregnancy.
According to the Geneva Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who ‘owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’.
However, the reasons why people feel forced to leave their home country go far beyond the scope of this definition. They include war, hunger, climate catastrophes and many more. Our definition therefore includes all women who were forced to flee from their country and not only those who are legally recognised as ‘refugees’.
Undocumented women refers to women living in Germany without legal residency status. This term is intended to clarify that the people themselves are not illegal (no human being is illegal!) but that they have experienced structural discrimination due to the legal framework, resulting in illegal residency. People who are affected by this are also known as undocumented migrants or, in other languages, sans papiers, sin papeles, etc.
(See also https://medibuero.de/leben-in-der-illegalitaet-2/)
We understand the term migrant women to refer to people who were born in another country and moved to Germany. Therefore, these women have a personal history of migration.
Our understanding of a partner relationship includes a wide range of types of relationship. By using the term ‘partner’, we are referring to both men and women, as well as non-binary people.
In the Istanbul Convention, domestic violence is defined as follows: ‘all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur with the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim’ (Art. 3 (b)).
In our study, we refer to acts of violence that occur in a partnership and are directed against the women completing our survey(s).
The pregnancy intention, i.e. the question of whether the pregnancy was ‘planned/intended’ or ‘unplanned/unintended’ plays a key role in our questioning. Our goal is to record the life situation of women experiencing unintended pregnancies in order to discover possible needs and gaps in care. In order to ensure that our results are meaningful, we need to compare the situation in different scenarios, i.e. compare women who became pregnant unintentionally and carried the pregnancy to term with those who terminated the pregnancy, as well as the situation with intended pregnancies. The question of ‘intended/planned’ and ‘unintended/unplanned’, and whether a pregnancy can be precisely planned in the first place, is the subject of much discussion in the specialist literature.
In our research project, our approach is guided by whether you perceived the pregnancy to be intended or unintended. Many pregnancies that are not originally intended are accepted as time passes and carried to term. Therefore, a pregnancy which was originally unintended does not mean an unwanted child. Accordingly, unintended pregnancies and terminations cannot be equated.
We want to record the perspectives of women who became pregnant unintentionally and carried the pregnancy to term, as well as women who became pregnant unintentionally and terminated the pregnancy. If you would say that you basically wanted to become pregnant but the pregnancy did not occur at the right point in time, according to our definition you fall within the group of unintended pregnancies if your behaviour before the pregnancy (for example, use of long-term contraceptives such as the coil or pill or taking the morning-after pill) implies that you tried to prevent a pregnancy at this time or tried to ensure that you did not become pregnant at this time.
Therefore, in this project, we distinguish between: