Journal Article

Social stigma and disclosure about induced abortion: Results from an exploratory study

It is well recognised that unsafe abortions have significant implications for women’s physical health; however, women’s perceptions and experiences with abortion-related stigma and disclosure about abortion are not well understood. This paper examines the presence and intensity of abortion stigma in five countries, and seeks to understand how stigma is perceived and experienced by women who terminate an unintended pregnancy and influences her subsequent disclosure behaviours. The paper is based upon focus groups and semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with women and men in Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and the United States (USA) in 2006. The stigma of abortion was perceived similarly in both legally liberal and restrictive settings although it was more evident in countries where abortion is highly restricted. Personal accounts of experienced stigma were limited, although participants cited numerous social consequences of having an abortion. Abortion-related stigma played an important role in disclosure of individual abortion behaviour.