Abortion stigma affects women and girls, abortion providers, reproductive rights advocates and communities. Although abortion is a common experience around the world, it is still largely stigmatised. Negative attitudes and beliefs about abortion may act as barriers to accessing safe services and can make it difficult for people to talk about their experiences of abortion. This can be very isolating, and may force people to continue unwanted pregnancies or to seek unsafe abortion.
Since 2011 the David & Lucile Packard Foundation has supported IPPF to implement a range of initiatives to investigate and address abortion stigma. It is often young people who are most severely affected by abortion stigma, and who are most at risk of suffering health complications as a result of unsafe abortion.
Since 2014 IPPF has delivered the Youth and Abortion Stigma project, a project focused on challenging abortion stigma and supporting young people’s access to safe abortion services – working with communities, service providers, and young people, conducting research, supporting youth initiatives and developing a range of resources to achieve an better environment for young people’s right to safe abortion and other reproductive and sexual rights. This project has conducted targeted work with our Member Associations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
Implementing individual, community and clinic-based interventions in the countries where abortion stigma research was conducted. Abortion stigma was measured at the community level at the beginning and end of each phase of the project, by using an adaptation of the Stigmatizing Attitudes, Beliefs and Actions Scale (SABAS) developed by Ipas.
Find out more about this ground-breaking work in Reducing Abortion Stigma: Global Achievements since 2014.
Tools and resources
Through this project IPPF has created a range of tools and resources to support understanding of abortion stigma and to increase the capacity of our Member Associations to advocate for safe abortion, and to provide non-stigmatising education and information.
How to talk about abortion: A guide to rights-based messaging
Designed to help individuals and organizations think about the language and images they use to communicate about abortion and offers best practice tips.
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Video: How to talk about abortion
Bright and colourful short animation to share the tips from the guide “How to talk about abortion”.
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How to talk about abortion: A guide for journalists, editors and media outlets
This guide encourages accurate reporting of the facts about abortion, and honest portrayals of abortion as part of real people’s lives and relationships.
How to educate about abortion: the essentials
Brief version of the guide “How to educate about abortion”.
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Video: How to educate about abortion
Accompanying the guide with the same name, this short animation distils advice from the guide into just two minutes!
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How to educate about abortion: A guide for peer educators, trainers and teachers
This comprehensive guide provides the rationale for teaching about abortion issues, as well a number of practical activities for doing so.
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Abortion matters: an introduction
A free online class that covers all the basics of abortion. A free DisasterReady account is required.
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Understanding abortion: a visual resource
This resource fills a gap in communication, reducing literacy and language barriers around abortion messaging.
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Strategies to improve young people’s access to stigma free services
IPPF recognizes the value of young people’s voices, perspectives and insights, as well as their keen understanding of which messages, media and resources will resonate with their peers. We have listened to young people and employed a range of strategies to ensure that our initiatives were genuinely led by youth.
Four of our Member Associations have shared their best practices to improve young people’s access to safe abortion services. These include strategies such as creating a ‘buddy system’ for young people accessing services, working with educational establishments, using social media, and youth friendly spaces.
Youth-led projects to tackle abortion stigma
As part of our work in tackling abortion stigma, this project has supported smaller ground-breaking youth-led projects in 14 different countries, in order to tackle the issue of abortion stigma in their communities.
These small grants have been awarded to projects in Albania, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Macedonia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Tanzania and Venezuela.
The ‘Youth Against Abortion Stigma’ blog features entries written by young IPPF volunteers, youth grantees and project champions from around the world.
For further information on this project, contact [email protected].