“They couldn’t talk to anybody because there’s so much stigma”: A qualitative study exploring Indigenous Peoples’ experience of abortion-related stigma in Canada




Ross, Arie

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Although there are no laws restricting abortion access in Canada, stigmatizing views of abortion still exist. Abortion-related stigma contributes to feelings of isolation and shame among those who have abortions, often leading to secrecy and hesitancy to seek support. However, experiences of abortion-related stigma among Indigenous Peoples in Canada have not been explored. This thesis research was nested within the exploratory study Global Goal, Local Impact: Access to Abortion Services for Indigenous Peoples in Canada (GGLI). Interview data were collected using a conversational method and analyzed following the DEPICT model. An intersectional feminist approach woven with a Two-Eyed Seeing methodology guided this work. Abortion-related stigma was experienced by all participants (N=15) and included internalized, service provider, social, and community stigma. Commonly, multiple aspects of stigma were experienced, revealing the interwoven and layered nature of abortion-related stigma. Abortion-related stigma was heightened further in the presence of intersecting identity factors, geographic barriers, lack of support, stereotypes, and perceived lack of credible information. Service provider stigma was most prevalent and manifested as poor communication, coercion, poor treatment, and potentially health care avoidance. Family and community, particularly those influenced by faith-based values and beliefs, impacted the experience of stigma and influenced feelings of shame, abortion access decisions, and contributed to a perceived lack of choice among some participants. Participants embodied resilience in the face of systemic barriers and proposed multiple solutions to reduce abortion-related stigma, including sharing stories as a means of resilience, reclamation, and support.



abortion, Indigenous Peoples, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Justice, Intersectional feminism, Two-Eyed Seeing, Stigma, Colonialism