205679 Good Mothers, Good Women, and Bad ľAss Girls: Stigma Management and Emotional Well-being in the Context of Abortion

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sri Devi Thakkilapati, MA , Department of Sociology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
CONTEXT: Research about women's experience of abortion tends to focus on structural and individual level factors in decision-making. An exploration of how women experience and negotiate their abortions can increase understanding of how sociological factors can differentially influence stigma and emotional well-being. METHODS: In this study, I conduct in-depth interviews with 39 women who are patients at an abortion clinic a few days to a few weeks before they have abortions. I conduct second interviews with ten of these women four weeks to three months after their abortions to catalogue and compare their narratives pre and post-abortion. RESULTS: I find that women who are clear about the abortion decision may still have strong negative feelings associated with the abortion. Negative feelings can emerge from abortion stigma and from circumstances in women's lives which are brought to crisis by the pregnancy and abortion. Women who have positive feelings about the abortion see the abortion as a solution to their difficult situation whereas women who feel negatively see the abortion as a part of the difficulty. CONCLUSION: Women adhere to varied gender expectations based on their individual circumstances and social locations. As a result, they have complicated responses to conflicting gender expectations and their resolution of these expectations with their material realities.

Learning Objectives:
Explore how women experience and negotiate their abortions. Describe how sociological factors can differentially influence stigma and emotional well-being.

Keywords: Abortion, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted the research for this study and have worked for an abortion provider for 7 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.