Existing abortion stigma research has rarely isolated the reason for termination; thus, the consequences of termination for medical reasons (TFMR) are poorly understood. We aimed to understand the association of stigma and social support with decision satisfaction in TFMR.
We performed a cross-sectional study on the experiences of 132 individuals who had a TFMR in the second or third trimester. We recruited participants via Facebook. Most participants were non-Hispanic White (85.6%), between 31 and 40 years old (72.7%), highly educated (84.1% with a 4-year degree), and married (89.4%). Participants completed an online demographic data questionnaire, including questions about stigma and social support, and an adapted satisfaction with decision survey. We used t-tests to explore the connection of stigma and social support with decision satisfaction.
Results did not reveal an association between stigma and decision satisfaction, but showed that higher social support is associated with higher decision satisfaction. Decision satisfaction was higher in participants who experienced more than one source of support [t(130) = 2.527, p = 0.01], compared with those reporting only one source of support, and in those who experienced support from a relative [t(130) = 1.983, p = 0.049] and physician [t(130) = 2.357, p = 0.020] than in those who did not.
Social support can alleviate the suffering related to TFMR. Exploring how different forms of social support, including therapy groups, can impact decision satisfaction might help develop interventions to improve postabortion outcomes.
Provider training must encourage providers to (1) support patients having a TFMR and (2) connect patients with other sources of support.