Abortion stigma affects all of us.
One in four Americans who can get pregnant will have an abortion in their lifetime. People with families, children, jobs, friends, hopes, and dreams. Abortions are a normal and necessary part of many people's reproductive lives. Yet the barrage of misinformation about abortions, the people who have them, and the healthcare professionals who provide abortion care has created a culture of shame and secrecy associated with this common experience.
Abortion stigma is all around us.
When you think about abortion, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it protesters yelling outside a clinic, political debates, and anti-abortion billboards? Maybe it’s a story you’ve heard about someone in your life, told with hushed and judgmental voices. Or maybe it’s your own abortion or abortions.
We hear so many voices talking about abortion, but rarely do we hear the experience of someone who actually had an abortion and the complex situations that led them to that decision. Having an abortion can mean the chance to graduate, to leave an abusive relationship, to raise the children you already have with dignity, to center your own needs. It can be a sad option in a series of disappointing events, an unhappy end to a wanted pregnancy, and an outcome fraught with emotion.
In the stories you'll read or hear from My Abortion, My Life, you will find themes of sadness and confusion, as well as resilience, determination, relief, and happiness. Just as every person’s life is unique and nuanced—so is every abortion story.
Stigma's effect on abortion providers.
The stigma that surrounds abortions not only affects the individuals who make the decision to have an abortion and their families, it also affects the ways abortion is regulated and the people who provide abortion care. Politicians who want to ban abortion exploit the cultural stigma to pass laws that have devastating effects on access to abortion, including forcing clinics to close. Read more from the Guttmacher Institute about the targeted regulations of abortion providers that use stigma against abortion providers to influence public policy.
Abortion providers face targeted harassment and violence, spurred by the stigma and shame that prevents honest and open conversations about this vital work. Even people seeking abortion care don’t always fully trust that abortion providers are safe and high-quality medical professionals due to the lack of accurate media portrayals.
Through storytelling from people working on the front-lines of abortion care, we are pushing back and dispelling the stigma.
Want to learn more about abortion stigma? Check out these resources:
What Is Abortion Stigma? | by Planned Parenthood and Sea Change
Abortion Stigma Archive | by Rewire
Because...Abortion Stigma Affects Us All | by Ipas
Supporting Independent Use of Abortion Medicines | by Women Help Women
What Happened When I Talked About My Abortions | by Sea Change
Many people around the world have two or more abortions | 2+ Abortions Worldwide
These resources are provided by organizations doing advocacy and academic research in the area of reproductive health and well-being.