Women cannot have comprehensive reproductive care without access to the full range of reproductive options, including abortion. However, the stigma that surrounds this topic limits acceptance of and access to abortion, which is associated with humiliation and disgrace. While NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon takes a pro-choice stance on abortion, this perspective falls under their larger mission – to achieve gender equality by ensuring that all women have access to all reproductive health services – through public education, political work, and more recently through the proposal of changes to public health policy. However, the organization has found it increasingly difficult to operate within the confines of the abortion stigma, as it limits its ability to achieve gender equality by villainizing the organization’s work.
This paper examines NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon through the theoretical lens of stigma theory. Drawing on the work of Erving Goffman and others, I argue that this organization is attempting to reframe the issue of abortion in a way that minimizes the abortion stigma. The organization pursues this objective in three ways: through impression management, collaboration, and by aligning itself with medical authority. These three strategies form NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s unique contribution to the abortion debate and could have the potential to dissolve the stigma that surrounds abortion.
Orlaith Heymann, ’11
Majors: Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology
Sponsor: Tori Barnes-Brus