September 2018

The association between reproductive autonomy and abortion stigma among women who have had abortions in the United States.

Mehta N, Baum S, Cartwright A, Cockrill K, Upadhyay U. The association between reproductive autonomy and abortion stigma among women who have had abortions in the United States. Stigma and Health, 2018 Sep 27.

Abstract: One in four women in the United States (U.S.) will have an abortion during their reproductive years, yet abortion continues to be highly stigmatized. As a result, women who have had abortions may experience discrimination, judgment from others, shame, or guilt about their decision. We hypothesized that women who have higher levels of reproductive autonomy experience lower levels of stigma. We used data containing validated reproductive autonomy and abortion stigma measures from 587 women who had ever had abortions. We used multivariable regression models to evaluate the association between reproductive autonomy and abortion stigma. In the adjusted model, a total reproductive autonomy score was significantly negatively associated with a total abortion stigma score (β = −0.43, p < .001). The decision-making and communication subscales, 2 components of reproductive autonomy, were also significantly negatively associated with a total abortion stigma score (β = −0.14, p = .001; β = −0.24, p < .001, respectively). These findings suggest that the level of power and control a woman experiences in her intimate relationship is associated with perceived or experienced stigma associated with her abortion. Stigma-reduction interventions related to abortion may consider focusing on women who have lower levels of reproductive autonomy, including those experiencing reduced partner communication or low decision-making power. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)