Every day we turn to the news to understand what is happening in our world. We assume that what we read will be accurate, factual, and unbiased. Yet we know that this is often not the case, especially when it comes to stigmatized issues like abortion.In our new report, “Shaping stigma: An analysis of mainstream print and online news coverage of abortion, 2014-2015,”co-authored with the Berkeley Media Studies Group, we discovered that news coverage perpetuated stigma in many ways, including through the frequent use of inflammatory language in quotes from anti-abortion advocates, the lack of firsthand stories from people who have had abortions, and the near absence of scientifically accurate information about the safety, prevalence, and support for abortion. Read the full report here, including our recommendations for journalists and advocates.
Although scholars have studied public discussion and opinions about abortion extensively, little literature is available on private conversations about abortion. In this original study, we explore private discourse about abortion by observing and analyzing conversations among women in book clubs. We found book club discussions demonstrated that private discussions about abortion can be complex and include multiple disclosures of personal abortion experiences, including having an abortion, considering an abortion during pregnancy, and helping a friend obtain an abortion. The results of this study begin to fill a critical gap in our knowledge of private discourse concerning abortion and its potential distinction from public conversations. Read the full study now.
From fall 2014 – spring 2015, we provided copies of our book Untold Stories: Life, Love, & Reproduction to 65 reading groups in 25 states. We wrapped up our evaluation in September 2015, and the results are incredible!
Ninety-nine people (about half of all of our evaluation respondents) shared new stories about reproduction, and nearly all of them felt supported when they did so. For almost all of these storytellers, they were sharing this reproductive experience for the very first time. Most readers said that participating in the project was “eye-opening,” gave them “more empathy,” and made them “more open to the nuance of reproductive decisions.” Read the full report to see just how rich their experiences were.
Video: What Happened When I Talked about My Abortions
In this video, our Untold Stories storyteller Karen Thurston talks about what it was like to share her abortion experiences, first with a friend from Church, and then with her family, and eventually on social media. Karen talks about what it’s like growing up in a culture drenched in abortion stigma, and how that impacted her decision to share her abortion stories.
Storytelling has a long history of being an effective strategy for change. We know it can transform hearts and minds, and shed light on how policy and culture impacts our personal experiences. Yet stigma and shame often prevent people from sharing their stories publicly. We surveyed 39 public abortion storytellers and conducted 13 in-depth interviews to ask them these questions and more.
Abortion stigma is a major barrier to adequate reproductive health care for women and a primary challenge for service delivery providers to address. Developing adequate measures of how abortion stigma manifests is a priority step for advocates who seek design and evaluate strategies for combatting abortion. Measures of abortion stigma are relatively new in the field of stigma measurement, but they can help provide a baseline understanding of the prevalence of stigma and how it varies by geographic and cultural context. In this brief we summarize our review of evidence-based tools designed to measure stigma across a range health topics.
Together with ANSIRH and Ibis Reproductive Health, we co-authored this white paper that articulates a definition of abortion stigma, provides a literature review on abortion stigma, stigma measurement, and stigma interventions, and a draws key insights from interviews s with 12 abortion service delivery providers around the globe. Read the full white paper here.
What is abortion stigma? How does it impact people seeking abortion services? How does it impact people who provide abortion care? We created this video to help explain the stigma system, and to show that we all have a role in reducing abortion stigma.
In an effort to broaden the discussion around abortion stigma and spark further research and critical thinking, Women and Health has published a special issue on abortion stigma in October 2014 compiling articles examining the topic. The special issue was conceptualized and co-edited by Kate Cockrill, Executive Director of the Sea Change program, Leila Hessini and Kristen Shellenberg from Ipas, and Katrina Kimport, Assistant Professor at the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University of California, San Francisco.
Abortion stigma is a challenge for sexual and reproductive health care providers around the world. Stigma can lead to a policy environment where it is difficult, dangerous or even impossible to provide abortion care. Stigma also shames and silences women who seek abortion, marginalizes abortion providers, and contributes to myths and misperceptions about abortion in communities and the media. To combat this stigma, we must first define and understand it. In this brief we provide a definition of abortion stigma and describe how this stigma manifests across various levels of culture.
Just as there are different manifestations of abortion stigma occurring at distinct cultural levels, there are different types of interventions designed to address them. In this summary we explore intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural interventions. The following summary provides a definition of abortion stigma in brief; for a more thorough exploration, see the full white paper, Addressing Abortion Stigma Through Service Delivery.