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Abortion Stigma: Discovering its Impact on Society

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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

Abortion is rarely a comfortable topic to talk about – whether you’re undergoing the procedure, are the health care provider performing the procedure or you know someone who has had an abortion.

By and large in the U.S., a stigma is attached to each of the aforementioned three groups of people: a label that can define them as "dirty" or "wrong" or in the second example, somehow discredits them as health care providers.

Recently, a group of researchers decided they wanted to explore this stigma broadly and specifically, to help the world at large better understand what it means to have an abortion. The researchers highlighted that abortion does not simply affect women or the individual woman having an abortion. Abortion’s roots extend further into the community and society at large.

“Abortion Stigma: A Reconceptualization of Constituents, Causes, and Consequences,” was published in the journal, Women’s Health Issues, and is comprised of work done by researchers from The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; the University of Cincinnati Department of Sociology; the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry; the Guttmacher Institute in New York; Goldsmiths College, University of London; and Center for the Study of Women, University of California, Los Angeles.

The team claimed that abortion stigma is under-researched and under-theorized, and the few existing studies focus only on women who have had abortions.

“There is very little research on abortion stigma, and what does exist has focused on women who have had abortions and on those experiences. We’re looking at stigma in a broader context,” explained research team member Danielle Bessett, assistant professor of sociology, University of Cincinnati.

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