Every day, everywhere, women have abortions. In fact, it’s thought that one in four pregnancies end in abortion. But despite this, the messaging around abortion is often inaccurate and stigmatizing. Abortion stigma is the negative portrayal of people who seek, provide or supports abortion. It stops people getting the help they need and is behind the laws that lead to unsafe abortions. So how do we avoid spreading myths and stigma in our own resources and the information we share.
You should only use reliable information from reputable sources. Remember: abortion is safe, safer even than giving birth. There are very few countries where abortion is completely illegal so don’t make people think it’s unavailable. When talking about the law explains that abortion is allowed under certain circumstances. In all countries, it’s legal to talk about abortion and to provide accurate information. You can find out more about the legal situation in your own country by using the World Abortion Laws Map.
Don’t Be Judgmental
The media often gives the message that some women are more deserving of abortion than others. We don’t know everyone’s situation and we shouldn’t judge them. Everyone has the right to accurate information and safe healthcare, regardless of their age, marital status or economic background. You probably know someone who’s had an abortion. Consider how your messages would make them feel.
Choose Words And Images Carefully
Some anti-abortion groups use language that intentionally shames women. Make sure you use accurate, neutral language recognizing a woman’s rights to her own body. Images and films can be excellent tools for getting your message across but there are lots of common mistakes people make when choosing images. They often show pictures of pregnant bellies though most abortions takes place before there’s a bump and pictures of women looking sad or traumatized. The women feel a range of emotions after an abortion including relief and hope. Anti-abortion groups use pictures of babies or fetuses. These don’t accurately reflect what it’s like to have an abortion. Try to focus your messaging on the person who’s pregnant and her rights.