Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Bessett studies issues surrounding reproduction, medical sociology, family, the body, gender, representations of reproduction in popular culture, and qualitative research methods. She received her PhD and MA in Sociology from New York University and her BA in English from Mount Holyoke College.
Explores racial, ethnic, and class disparities by analyzing how pregnant women across these social groups see, interpret, and value their reproductive efforts using the obstetric concept of “normal pregnancy” as a lens. The book reveals that “normal” is a paradox: it appears self-evident but communicates complex cultural assumptions about pregnancy, mothering, and anticipated children.
Examines individuals’ knowledge about abortion in relation to political context of their current state of residence, assess health-related and legality abortion knowledge, to find that state-level conservatism does not modify the existing relationships between individual predictors and each of the two types of abortion knowledge. Disputes the ‘red states’ versus ‘blue states’ hypothesis, and finds that knowledge about abortion’s health effects in the USA is low.
Explores how Massachusetts' 2006 health insurance reforms affected access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for young adults. Finds that young adult-targeted efforts should address the challenges of health service utilization unique to this population.
Identifies potential needs for improvement in the decision making process for gay male couples and their gestational surrogates. Discusses an overall lack in support from assisted reproductive technology programs, attorneys, obstetricians, and pediatricians. Finds that there needs to be increased sensitivity and support from those providing services to the intended parents and gestational surrogate.
Examines individuals' knowledge about abortion in the context of their knowledge about other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, including contraception, abortion, pregnancy, and birth.
Discusses five reasons why abortion is stigmatized. Examines causes and consequences of abortion stigma to illustrate how it is manifest for affected groups.