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What is Abortion Stigma? How does it work?

Stigma is a major contributor to the social, medical, and legal marginalization of abortion worldwide. Yet, our understanding of stigma is still evolving.

Throughout the world, people able to get pregnant still do not have the right to make one of the most important and life-transformative decisions: to carry a pregnancy to term or not. In spite of the fact that it is a very common reproductive experience, abortion is still seen as wrong or deviant. Though stigma manifests differently depending on geography, culture, and religion, abortion remains a contested issue in countries as different as Australia, Spain, the United States, Kenya, and Honduras.

Why are abortion-seekers deprived of a healthcare service that could save their lives? Why are they forced to undergo a waiting period, deprivation of pain medications, or judgmental attitudes in order to get an abortion? Why are abortion services often separate from other reproductive health care? Why are providers isolated and treated as substandard clinicians? And why do people in some contexts have to trade safety for access to routine health care?

Around the world, researchers and advocates are beginning to examine the role that abortions stigma plays in law, health policy, communities, and the lives of individuals.

The goal of inroads is to support these efforts to understand stigma as part of a larger goal of supporting sexual and reproductive rights and abortion access for all.

Our specific contribution is to create a community of practice with resources, spaces, and tools that individuals can use to identify stigma and work to mitigate it.

We believe that we must address stigma, and its root causes and consequences, in order for real and deep change to happen around abortion globally, regionally, and locally. And time is of the essence.

The time is now for a global shift. Join us in reimagining abortion worldwide.