September 2014

A qualitative investigation of low-income abortion clients’ attitudes toward public funding for abortion

Nickerson, A, Manski R, Dennis A. A qualitative investigation of low-income abortion clients’ attitudes toward public funding for abortion. Women & Health. 2014; 54(7); 672-686.

We explored how low-income abortion clients in states where public funding was and was not available perceived the role of public funding for abortion. From October 2010 through February 2011, we conducted 71 semi-structured in-depth telephone interviews with low-income abortion clients in Arizona, Florida, New York, and Oregon. Women reported weighing numerous factors when determining which circumstances warranted public funding. Though most women generally supported coverage, they deviated from their initial support when asked about particular circumstances. Respondents felt most strongly that abortion should not be covered when a woman could not afford another child or was pregnant outside of a romantic relationship. Participants used disparaging language to describe the presumed behavior of women faced with unintended pregnancies. In seeking to discredit “other” women’s abortions, women revealed the complex nature of abortion stigma. We propose that women’s abortion experiences and subsequent opinions on coverage indicated three distinct manifestations of abortion stigma: women (1) resisted the prominent discourse that marks women who have had abortions as selfish and irresponsible; (2) internalized societal norms that stereotype women based on the circumstances surrounding the abortion; and (3) reproduced stigma by distancing themselves from the negative stereotypes associated with women who have had abortions.

Tagged with Abortion, United States