Stigma Makes People Reluctant to Tell Loved Ones About Their Abortions, Says Study

November 4, 2014

Several high-profile public figures, such as Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, Texas State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, have recently made headlines by disclosing their abortions to the world. But a new study says that for most people, revealing the fact that they had an abortion is by no means that public of an act—and thanks to stigma, they often hesitate to tell more than one or two trusted family members, partners, or friends.

Published in the journal Sociological Science on Monday, New York University researcher Sarah K. Cowan surveyed 1,607 American adults about their experiences with abortion and miscarriage disclosures, examining how often people discussed the former when compared with the latter. Though, as Cowan noted, induced abortions are more common than recognized miscarriages, Cowan found that it is far more likely for people to have heard about an experience with the former than the latter. According to Cowan’s study, three-quarters of people surveyed had heard about a miscarriage from a family member or friend, while only half had heard an abortion story.

Cowan’s research also found that people who have miscarriages share that experience more often—77 percent of people who have had a miscarriage tell others about it, while only 66 percent of those who have had abortions do so—and with an average of 1.39 more people.


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