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‘Repeat abortion’, a phrase to be avoided? Qualitative insights into labelling and stigma

Hoggart, Lesley; Newton, Victoria Louise and Bury, Louise (2017). ‘Repeat abortion’, a phrase to be avoided? Qualitative insights into labelling and stigma. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, 43(1) pp. 26–30.

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Background In recent years there has been growing international interest in identifying risk factors associated with ‘repeat abortion’, and developing public health initiatives that might reduce the rate. This article draws on a research study looking at young women's abortion experience in England and Wales. The study was commissioned with a specific focus on women who had undergone more than one abortion. We examine what may influence women's post-abortion reproductive behaviour, in addition to exploring abortion-related stigma, in the light of participants' own narratives.

Study design Mixed-methods research study: a quantitative survey of 430 women aged 16–24 years, and in-depth qualitative interviews with 36 women who had undergone one or more abortions. This article focuses on the qualitative data from two subsets of young women: those we interviewed twice (n=17) and those who had experienced more than one unintended/unwanted pregnancy (n=15).

Results The qualitative research findings demonstrate the complexity of women's contraceptive histories and reproductive lives, and thus the inherent difficulty of establishing causal patterns for more than one abortion, beyond the obvious observation that contraception was not used, or not used effectively. Women who had experienced more than one abortion did, however, express intensified abortion shame.

Conclusions This article argues that categorising women who have an abortion in different ways depending on previous episodes is not helpful. It may also be damaging, and generate increased stigma, for women who have more than one abortion.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 2045-2098
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Young women's experiences of unintended pregnancies and abortionNot SetMSI (Marie Stopes International)
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Health and Wellbeing PRA (Priority Research Area)
Item ID: 48673
Depositing User: Lesley Hoggart
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2017 12:21
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2017 09:51
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