Situating stigma in stratified reproduction: Abortion stigma and miscarriage stigma as barriers to reproductive healthcare

Aalap Bommaraju, Megan L. Kavanaugh, Melody Hou, Danielle Bessett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Objectives To examine whether race and reported history of abortion are associated with abortion stigma and miscarriage stigma, both independently and comparatively. Study design Self-administered surveys with 306 new mothers in Boston and Cincinnati, United States. Main outcome measures Abortion stigma perception (ASP); miscarriage stigma perception (MSP); and comparative stigma perception (CSP: abortion stigma perception net of miscarriage stigma perception). Results Regardless of whether or not they reported having an abortion, white women perceived abortion (ASP) to be more stigmatizing than Black and Latina women. Perceptions of miscarriage stigma (MSP), on the other hand, were dependent on reporting an abortion. Among those who reported an abortion, Black women perceived more stigma from miscarriage than white women, but these responses were flipped for women who did not report abortion. Reporting abortion also influenced our comparative measure (CSP). Among those who did report an abortion, white women perceived more stigma from abortion than miscarriage, while Black and Latina women perceived more stigma from miscarriage than abortion. Conclusions By measuring abortion stigma in comparison to miscarriage stigma, we can reach a more nuanced understanding of how perceptions of reproductive stigmas are stratified by race and reported reproductive history. Clinicians should be aware that reproductive stigmas do not similarly affect all groups. Stigma from specific reproductive outcomes is more or less salient dependent upon a woman's social position and lived experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-69
Number of pages8
JournalSexual and Reproductive Healthcare
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016



  • Abortion
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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