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Out of the margins: dismantling stigma and disrupting stereotypes of abortion providers

Lisa Harris, University of Michigan

Project abstract

This proposal brings together a skilled interdisciplinary team to create a short documentary film with the aim of disrupting negative stereotypes of abortion providers. The proposal grows from our findings from our Phase 1 findings and previous SFP-funded work. Stereotypes of abortion providers as dangerous and callous are pervasive and have damaging effects, including: distress for providers, undue fear among patients, and restrictive legislation. In Phase 1 we hosted a meeting with communications experts and learned that storytelling in film can have powerful effects in changing attitudes and beliefs. When the subjects of a story are a stigmatized or marginalized group, the most effective storytellers are often those with close relationships to the subject, but who do not carry the same stigmatized “mark.” We determined that a short film featuring the narratives of abortion providers, as told by those who work as medical colleagues with them, may be a powerful vehicle for changing stigmatizing attitudes among healthcare workers broadly. The target audience for this film is physicians and nurses in all specialties, and medical/nursing students. We will determine the effect of the film on attitudes and beliefs about abortion providers by administering an online survey immediately before and after viewing the film. We will generate new data on attitudes of healthcare workers toward abortion providers. In addition, we expect that engaging health care practitioners who are not abortion providers will help promote abortion as an integral part of healthcare and generate allyship.


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