268643 Disclosure management, stigma resistance, and resilience: Parallels between abortion work and LGBT identities

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Michelle Debbink , Department of Health Management & Policy and Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Emily Youatt, MPH , Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Lisa Martin, PhD , Women's and Gender Studies Program/Health Policy Studies Program, University of Michigan, Dearborn, Dearborn, MI
Jane Hassinger, MSW, LCSW , Women's Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Lisa Harris, MD, PhD , Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
We sought to understand the parallels in identity disclosure decisions between abortion providers and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Like LGBT identity, abortion work is highly politicized and stigmatized in U.S. society, and we hypothesized that abortion workers and LGBT individuals may share similar struggles and strategies around identity disclosure. We explored how experiences of resistance, resilience, and marginalization among abortion providers might mirror those of individuals with LGBT identities. We used qualitative focus group data from 8 abortion clinics whose workers participated in the ProvidersShare Workshop. ProvidersShare is a multi-session workshop aimed at lessening the burdens abortion workers face due to work-related stressors (for example, stigma, harassment, and fear of violence). Workshop participants actively managed their abortion worker identity using discretion, concealment, and fabrication in various contexts, all strategies also employed by LGBT individuals. Some workers referred to disclosure of their role in abortion work as “coming out” while others actively hid, avoided, or lied about their employment to others. Interestingly, LGBT-identified participants drew on previous experiences with disclosure dilemmas to guide their response to abortion work as stigmatized work. Resistance to stigmatized identity included “re-claiming” words like “abortionist” and “pro-life.” We discuss similarities between the challenges facing abortion workers and LGBT-identified individuals, and common coping strategies employed by both groups to deal with these stigmatized identities. We explore the utility of these identity disclosure management strategies, and suggest possible interventions building on the strengths of these practices.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the impact of stigma on abortion workers Explain the similarities between abortion workers and LGBT individuals' response to stigmatized identity Describe the strategies of disclosure management and resistance in response to stigma.

Keywords: Abortion, Providers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Have studied stigma management and disclosure decisions among abortion providers for 5 years. Have planned, conducted, and analyzed qualitative projects and data.
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.