Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2022
Baker, M. R., Papp, L. J., Crawford, B. L., & McClelland, S. (2022). Abortion Stigma: Imagined Consequences for People Seeking Abortion Care in the United States. Psychology of Women Quarterly.
Baker, Majel R., Leanna J. Papp, Brandon L. Crawford, and S. McClelland. “Abortion Stigma: Imagined Consequences for People Seeking Abortion Care in the United States.” Psychology of Women Quarterly (2022).
Baker, Majel R., et al. “Abortion Stigma: Imagined Consequences for People Seeking Abortion Care in the United States.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2022.
Prior to and since the 2022 Dobbs decision, U.S. state laws have endorsed individuals surveilling and punishing those associated with abortion care. This practice presents an urgent need to understand the characteristics of abortion stigma, particularly the perspectives of individuals with stigmatizing beliefs. To examine the concept and characteristics of abortion stigma, we interviewed 55 individuals about whether they thought there should be consequences for getting an abortion and, if so, what the consequences should be. Adults from three states (Michigan, Kansas, and Arizona) were purposively sampled to include a range of abortion identities and levels of religious engagement. We used reflexive thematic analysis to code and interpret the data. Participants imagined consequences including financial penalties, incarceration, and forced sterilization. Three themes highlighted how abortion was described as violating the law, women's gender roles, and religious doctrine; accordingly, abortion was imagined as deserving of negative consequences, although abortion was legal in all states during data collection. We argue that these imagined consequences relied on carceral logics and interconnected sexist, racist, and classist stereotypes that reflect and reproduce abortion stigma. This study deepens the understanding of abortion stigma from the perspective of the stigmatizer, underscoring the danger of legislation grounded in stigmatizing beliefs.