Abortion in the United States: Identifying Populations That Perceive the Most Abortion-Related Stigma
Approximately three million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended, and about half of the women who experience an unwanted, unintended pregnancy obtain an abortion to terminate their pregnancy. However, despite abortion being a common and safe gynecological procedure, it is publicly controversial and highly stigmatized. Available research is in agreement that abortion does not lead to long-term mental health problems; however, there is a strong and significant association between abortion-related stigma and pre-abortion depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms. Furthermore, stigma is suspected to vary based on demographic factors, and understanding these differences may help further prevent and manage abortion-related stigma. The present study sought to identify which groups of women were more prone to perceiving abortion-related stigma. This cross-sectional study utilized the Guttmacher Institute’s 2008 Abortion Patient Survey dataset, which in addition to demographic information, it included nine specific questions about abortion-related stigma (n = 4724). Results demonstrated there is an overall significant mean difference in the perception of stigma between Hispanic women and non-Hispanic women, t(4314) = -2.4, p < .05; specifically, Hispanic women perceived significantly more abortion-related stigma when compared to both Black women and women who identified their ethnicity as Other, F(5, 4310) = 22.2, p < .001. Furthermore, it was discovered there was no significant difference in the level of perceived abortion-related stigma for married and non-married women, t(761) = - .15, p = .88. Results also demonstrated college educated women perceive more abortion-related stigma than non-college educated women, F(3,4312) = 9.5, p < .01. Lastly, it was discovered women who obtained an abortion in the first trimester have a significantly higher level of perceived abortion-related stigma than women who obtained an abortion in their second trimester, t(4314) = 4.29, p < .001. Findings from this study will be used to inform reproductive health providers which populations will benefit most from pre-abortion interventions or resources to prevent or decrease stigmatization in order to better protect these marginalized groups from the negative impact of stigma.