Normative female sexuality and abortion stigma: a feasibility study using qualitative secondary analysis    


  • Dr Carrie Purcell

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

We will examine the relationship between female sexuality and the stigmatisation of abortion. Worldwide, abortion remains controversial and highly stigmatised as it challenges powerful social norms of feminine sexuality, particularly in socio-cultural contexts where women’s moral autonomy is contested. A growing body of US-focused literature demonstrates that stigma coupled with health inequalities creates barriers for women seeking essential care. This also contributes to the medical and social marginalisation of abortion. However, little is known about the way narratives of ‘deviant’ female sexuality contribute towards the stigma of abortion in the UK.

We will test the feasibility of using qualitative secondary analysis of existing datasets to examine abortion stigma in different UK jurisdictions. This approach, undertaken by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in abortion research and provision, will explore the interface between female sexuality and abortion in the narratives of women, health providers, educators, and the wider society.

The study is timely given the potential impact of ongoing political change on abortion provision. It will establish the feasibility of a larger collaborative study using additional datasets and developing an intervention to reduce stigma.