Social norms and stigma

Although abortion is a common experience for people globally, abortion stigma constrains access to information, creates social and logistical barriers, and perpetuates restrictive laws that prevent people from getting the care they want and need. In combination with other factors, lack of accurate and complete information about abortion can contribute to delays in access and/or to the use of unsafe abortion methods. Several abortion care providers, researchers, and advocates have taken up strategies to destigmatize abortion and improve access to care that is based in person-centered and human-rights principles such as respect, autonomy, and dignity.

Person-centered abortion care is free of judgment and coercion, and prioritizes the dignity, autonomy, and needs of the individual. Together, abortion providers, researchers, and advocates involved in championing the paradigm of person-centered abortion care are actively making strides in reducing barriers to access; improving quality of care; empowering individuals; enacting social movements; and influencing health, legal, and political action. As accompaniment and hotline networks expand their reach, research is needed to understand how this strategy facilitates the widespread implementation of this person-centered philosophy across models of care, improves access to abortion—particularly for hard-to-reach populations—and shifts social norms and community attitudes toward abortion.

By conducting rigorous, partner-driven research with partners in Latin America and East and West Africa, we seek to document and amplify how abortion accompaniment networks and hotlines shift social norms around abortion through expanding and promoting safe, high-quality, person-centered abortion care. The work will document successes, challenges, and opportunities for the normalization, demedicalization, and expansion of access to person-centered care in diverse legal and social contexts; develop and evaluate strategies to increase access to high-quality person-centered abortion care of populations that face intersecting stigmas and barriers to care; and assess the synergies between different models of abortion care.