AUTONOMY WITHOUT BORDERS? UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENCE STATUS ON HEALTHCARE RELATIONSHIPS IN BELGIUM

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Abstract

Access to public healthcare services for Belgium’s undocumented migrants is regulated through a parallel, administrative procedure within the legal framework of Urgent Medical Aid. This imposes several constraints on their access to healthcare services. Drawing on empirical-ethical methodologies, we show how this procedure impacts on the relationship between patients with undocumented status and healthcare workers. We use the concept of relational autonomy to show how the imposed legal constraints reduce the formal treatment options available to healthcare workers, but simultaneously lead to informal care practices, and how the latter increase the discretionary power of the healthcare workers. We argue that in this context, provision becomes unpredictable and arbitrary, with undocumented migrants tending to value strong personal relations with one particular, trusted healthcare worker. Although this leads to increased dependence, it also increases patients’ options and autonomy by providing access to wider professional networks attached to that healthcare worker.
Translated title of the contributionAutonomie zonder grenzen?: De impact van onwettig verblijf statuut begrijpen op de gezondheidszorgrelaties in België
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal for feminist approaches to bioethics
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, 2023.

Keywords

  • agency, Belgium, bioethics, healthcare access, relational autonomy, undocumented migrant

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