Information helplines and hotlines have probably been around for as long as there have been telephones. If you put the word “helpline” into Google, the pages fill up with different helplines. In the last decade, safe abortion information helplines have evolved as a successful strategy to share information about how to have a safe abortion using medicines (mifepristone and misoprostol) and as a vehicle for social change.
In this Issue, Berkeley Media Studies group partnered with the Sea Change Program to explore how abortion stigma appears in mainstream print and online news and to consider the implications of these portrayals for reproductive health, rights and justice advocates. We also consider implications for journalists interested in telling stories that broaden the narrative around abortion in ways that affirm the range of individuals’ reproductive experiences and reduce shame and stigma.
This is web-based toolkit was developed by and for young people with inputs from Georgia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Poland and Romania, and written and edited by YouAct with great input from ASTRA Youth.
Studies were based mainly on US samples; some included participants from Ghana, Great Britain, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Zambia. The majority of studies showed that women who have had abortions experience fear of social judgment, self-judgment and a need for secrecy. Stigma appeared to be salient in abortion providers’ lives. More research, using validated measures, is needed to enhance understanding of abortion stigma and thereby reduce its impact on affected individuals.
Abortion is a common medical experience, globally and in South Africa. Worldwide, approximately one in five pregnancies ends in abortion. But many societies understand abortion as a moral transgression, even if its benefits to public health are sanctioned legally. South Africa’s abortion culture reveals this paradox: abortion is often publicly condemned – by political authorities, healthcare workers, patients and their families – but privately sanctioned.
For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global (PP Global) has been working to expand access to safe and legal abortion services, especially where access to providers is most needed. A big part of that work is combating abortion stigma. The World Health Organization has recommended that abortion be provided at the lowest level of care. PP Global agrees and designed a protocol for misoprostol for first trimester abortion administered by low level health care workers, called Community Based Access to Misoprostol (CBAM). Our trainings and training materials aim to support the delivery of services to women where they are most needed, and access to an abortion provider is limited.
A selection of studies: Constructing a validated scale to measure community-level abortion stigma in Mexico; Abortion stigma around the globe: a qualitative synthesis; Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and sub-regional levels and trends; Measuring unsafe abortion-related mortality: a systematic review of the existing methods; Identifying indicators for quality abortion care: a systematic literature review; Randomized trial assessing home use of two pregnancy tests for determining early medical abortion outcomes at 3, 7 and 14 days after mifepristone.