268291 Abortion stigma in Mexico: Qualitative evidence from six states

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Annik Sorhaindo, MSc , Population Council, Mexico DF, Mexico
Gillian F. Garcia , Institutional Development Coordinator, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir/ México, Mexico DF, Mexico
Claudia Diaz, PhD , Research Center in Population and Health, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, Mexico City, Mexico
Clara Juarez, PhD , Centro de Investigación en Sistemas de Salud, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Xipatl Contreras, BA , Population Council Mexico Office, Mexico City, Mexico
Evelyn Aldaz , Institutional Development, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir/ México, Mexico DF, Mexico
Vanessa Cravioto, BA , Research Center in Population and Health, National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Maria Consuelo Mejia , Director, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir/ México, Mexico DF, Mexico
Sandra Garcia, ScD, ScM , Mexico Office, Population Council, Mexico City, Mexico
Stigma, conceptualized as the symbolic “marking” and discrimination of individuals with certain socially undesirable characteristics, as a feature of abortion is under-researched. Although abortion stigma is common across contexts, its social manifestations largely depend on local political, institutional, religious, community-level and personal discourses. Abortion is legal in the first trimester in Mexico City, but remains heavily restricted elsewhere in the country. Abortion stigma is more prevalent in contexts where it is legally restricted. Concealing an abortion from friends and family to avoid stigma and suppressing thoughts about abortion is common and may have implications for psychological health and wellbeing.

This study explored the causes, experiences and consequences of abortion stigma in six Mexican states – Chiapas, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Mexico City and Yucatán – with both the general population and women and men who had direct experience. In each state, we conducted three focus groups: men ages 24-40, women 24-40 and young women ages 18-24, and four in-depth interviews with women who have had an abortion and male partners.

Abortion stigma in Mexico reflects three prevalent ‘feminine' ideals put forth by Kumar and colleagues (2009): perpetual fecundity, the inevitability of motherhood, and instinctive nurturing. Both the wider community and people with direct experience discussed the shame and guilt associated with abortion and the role of secrecy in avoiding stigma. These sentiments were influenced by a widespread conservative Catholic discourse. Abortion stigma appears to be prevalent in Mexico and to vary by social, cultural and religious context and by legal circumstances.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the underlying factors that impact upon the sources, experiences and consequences of stigma from the perspectives of women and men who have experienced an abortion and from the general population in six Mexican states.

Keywords: Abortion, International

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-principal investigator on this study and have previously participated in a number of research projects focused on sexual and reproductive health, including abortion.
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.