269381 Faith and Abortion Stigma: Findings from the Abortion Stigma Scale

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Kate Cockrill, MPH , Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Diana Greene Foster, PhD , Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Ob/Gyn, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Janet Turan, PhD, MPH , School of Public Health, Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH , Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Introduction: Abortion is a stigmatized social experience, but little is known about how stigma varies by socio-demographic factors.

Methods: We developed and validated a 20-item abortion stigma scale measuring four manifestations of stigma: worries about judgment, social support, self-judgment, and community condemnation. We implemented the scale with a self-administered iPad survey at 13 Planned Parenthood clinics across the US. Six-hundred and fifty-two women participated in our study. We used multivariable linear regression analysis to examine associations between multiple socio-demographic factors and abortion stigma.

Results: Most women scored low on the overall stigma scale. Yet the majority of women reported medium high to high levels of self-judgment related to their abortions. We found significant variation in scale and sub-scale scores by race, religion, religiosity age, education and number of births. Women's religious tradition (Protestant and Catholic) and the strength of their spiritual faith were factors that appeared to increase stigma in the full scale and sub-scales. We also found that Black and Asian women showed lower levels of concern about social judgment than white women.

Conclusion: Socio-demographic factors appear to play an important role in the social and emotional experience of having an abortion. Women of all faiths have abortions, yet stigma is highly concentrated among Catholic and Protestant Christians and those with strong religious beliefs. Certain social groups may be more resilient to the negative effects of stigma than others. Efforts to destigmatize abortion should reflect the multiple manifestations of stigma and differences across populations.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
- To learn about using the abortion stigma scale for public health research - To compare scores on the abortion stigma scale by sociodemographic factors - To discuss how the abortion stigma scale can assist in efforts to destigmatize abortion

Keywords: Abortion, Well-Being

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research that is being reported on in the abstract.
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.