This paper examines abortion stigma encountered by women as recipients and providers of abortion care, documenting qualitative research conducted in 2014. Two groups of participants were interviewed: 35 women who had had a pregnancy terminated; and 36 health care providers who had assisted women with abortions. For patients, the study clarifies the stigma associated with abortion, both before and after the abortion. For providers, the study examines beliefs that either prevent them from providing services to women with an unintended pregnancy or help them to feel confident in their role as abortion service providers. Women who had had an abortion typically felt guilty, thinking they had committed the worst sin. Having no choice, their voices remained silent, as they thought they would conceal their abortions probably for a lifetime. Practitioners providing safe abortion were also stigmatized, as people “assisting in destroying lives”; they were considered to have committed “associated sin” through their involvement. Although their services are comprehensive and legal, they also tend to conceal their involvement. These experiences suggest that abortion stigma, including the notion of associated sin, is the most significant barrier to accessing safe and legal abortion services in Thailand.
Moderator: Dr. Sutthida Chuanwan
March 15, 2017