Worldwide, one in four pregnancies end in abortion, yet stigma and judgement around seeking and speaking about safe abortion care persist.
New research from Marie Stopes International has found that a culture of silence still exists around abortion for many women in the UK. The YouGov survey found that only one in three women (33%) in the UK would tell their family if they were considering an abortion. In addition, only 34% of women would speak with their friends if considering an abortion. Meanwhile, 62% of women would tell their sexual partner. This is despite the vast majority of UK women identifying as pro-choice (92%) and wanting abortion to be talked about more openly.
In many settings, this silence can drive women to unsafe services. Marie Stopes International’s 2019 report, My Body, My Voice, found that high levels of stigma around abortion can contribute to women not knowing where to access safe services. In parallel, stigma continues to drive women to unsafe services, with research showing that one of the largest drivers for women going to unsafe providers is that they believe unsafe providers will be more confidential:
“Most women are aware of abortion law and safe practices. However, the idea that abortion is wrong is so engrained in their minds that they might not go to a government or registered site to get a service, as they’re scared of being exposed to the other people in their community. The fear that society might have a negative impression of them still acts as a major factor for practicing unsafe abortion.” – Bhawana Shakya, Director at Marie Stopes Nepal
To challenge this stigma, Marie Stopes International have launched the #SmashAbortionStigma campaign, calling for open and honest conversations about abortion. Through these necessary conversations, we can help women and pregnant people feel informed, educated and supported when it comes to make choices about their own bodies.
Visit the Marie Stopes International website for further details on the #SmashAbortionStigma campaign and download the Supporter Toolkit below to get involved.