Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Ostrach is an applied medical anthropologist and reproductive anthropologist. A Full Fellow of the Society of Family Planning, her applied medical anthropology research explores reproductive justice, publicly funded health systems, syndemics, and the role of social and mutual support in people’s ability to overcome obstacles. She began working directly in the field of reproductive health and abortion care in 1999, and has since worked with and volunteered at multiple clinics in Oregon, Connecticut, and Catalunya. In 2002, with co-workers from a feminist abortion clinic that abruptly closed, she co-founded the Network for Reproductive Options in Oregon, a grassroots abortion referral and funding hotline organization that also provides reproductive justice and sexuality education. She continues to be a Spanish-speaking back-up volunteer on the hotline, and consults as-needed on other projects. Dr. Ostrach’s ongoing fieldwork primarily occurs in Catalunya (on publicly funded reproductive health care and community-based solidarity movements focused on inclusivity) and with people seeking and providing abortion in the United States. She is the author of Health Policy in a Time of Crisis: Abortion, Austerity, and Access (Routledge Press, 2017).
Examines the contributions of the syndemics approach for understanding both interacting chronic diseases in social context, and the implications of a syndemics orientation to the issue of health rights.
Examines the disparities experienced by immigrant and other women, documenting the diverse approaches adopted to overcome obstacles to care in Catalan. Uses accounts from both providers and women seeking care to illuminate a healthcare system during a period of economic crisis and disagreement over reproductive governance.
Identifies global factors that affect the likelihood of women in a given setting being able to access safe abortion, with an eye to reducing the globally recognized public health risks of negative outcomes from illegal, clandestine, and/or unsafe abortion.
Discusses how medical-anthropological data on women’s experiences obtaining Medicaid coverage for abortion care was used to successfully lobby for expedited waiting times for all low-income pregnant women in the state seeking Medicaid coverage, including for prenatal care, thus gaining a public health victory.
Documents the lived experiences of marginalized women in Oregon who navigated socioeconomic and social support obstacles to obtain abortion care. Identifies how women engage in both pragmatic and resistant strategies to work within bureaucratic systems to get the public health system coverage they need to obtain care, despite delays; mobilizing social support to resist structural inequality and unjust power relationships.
Presents follow-up data from a study conducted a year after the policy change described in previous research, showing that even with a successful policy change, reforms are not always permanent or adequate.
Examines how social processes, specifically the acquisition of postsecondary education and capital, shaped perceptions of sexual risk and impacted sexual practices and sexual health among young adults.
Examines the experiences of immigrant women with national health systems, and their use of such systems for reproductive and abortion care, in order to explore what could be expected in Spain as the national health system expands to include abortion care, and to illuminate immigrant women's experiences with using national health systems for reproductive healthcare more broadly.
Synthesises known risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection and disease progression in women and analyses them through the lens of syndemics theory in order to demonstrate women's biopolitical vulnerability to the disease.