Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Abortion-Psychological aspects, Abortion-Social aspects, Stigma (Social psychology), Women-Psychology, Abortion, Stigma, Mixed methods, New England, Attitudes, Stereotype, Women-Attitudes, Abortion stigma


This mixed methods exploratory study piloted a non-validated online qualitative survey instrument to assess women's social and emotional experiences with abortion stigma from women recruited on college campuses in New England. Abortion stigma is defined as prejudices and discrimination directed at women who have abortions, and people and institutions that support women who have abortions. Thirty-nine women took an online survey instrument that asked respondents to: provide their reproductive health histories; report when they first learned of abortion; give information regarding their community's attitudes about abortion; state their feelings about abortion. Eight women, sampled from the qualitative survey pool, participated in a 30 to 45 minute in-depth telephone interview. Qualitative participants engaged in a dialogue about the survey, their experiences with abortion, and their community's attitudes about abortion. The researcher hypothesized that women who had one or more abortions would perceive and experience more abortion stigma, and all women, regardless of their reproductive health histories, would observe and have experiences with abortion stigma. The findings indicate that the first hypothesis was the reversed; women who had one or more abortions did not experience or perceive abortion stigma. Findings also suggest that there is a significant relationship between believing that abortion stigma affects women, and strongly identifying as a woman. Therefore, the second hypothesis was confirmed for the participants in this study. This finding has important implications for clinical social work practice, policy, and education, as social workers have an influential role in challenging stereotypes.




viii, 122 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 77-81)

Limited Access until August 2017