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Measurement of individual-level abortion stigma resulting from Pennsylvania state-mandated abortion consent language: A pilot randomized controlled trial

Elizabeth Gurney, MD, MPH, University of Pennsylvania, 2015

Project abstract

Abortion stigma has been defined as “a negative attribute ascribed to women who seek to terminate a pregnancy that marks them, internally or externally, as inferior to ideals of womanhood.” Abortion-related stigma exists at multiple levels, ranging from the level of mass culture, involving government and policy, institutional levels, the community, and finally at the individual level. Individual-level stigma for the woman seeking an abortion is likely to have emotional and physical effects. Laws and policies that restrict or frame a physician’s abortion counseling may have an effect on individual level stigma. In Pennsylvania, the Abortion Control Act of 1989 states that each woman seeking abortion be provided with mandatory state-prepared information by a physician at least 24 hours prior to her abortion. Our proposed pilot research is a randomized controlled trial designed to measure abortion stigma related to the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act. We will randomize women seeking abortion to receive the validated Individual Level Abortion Stigma Scale either before or after consent via the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act language. The primary outcome will be the stigma scores in the two groups. This research will help to further understand the way that governmental regulations surrounding abortion relate to individual-level stigma.

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