Addressing abortion stigma

As a global sexual and reproductive health and rights organization, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) works towards a world in which stigma and discrimination have no place. For many years now, IPPF, together with partner organizations, has implemented programmes to specifically address HIV stigma, such as the Criminalising Hate, Not HIV campaign, the People Living with HIV Stigma Index, the Positive? interactive learning toolkit and investigating the role of the media in combatting HIV stigma.

In the past five years there has been increased global attention on abortion stigma. IPPF has thus expanded its work to address the impact that negative beliefs and attitudes about abortion has on access to, and scale-up of, safe abortion services. Abortion stigma manifests at many levels, from individuals and service providers to communities, institutions, laws and policies, and wider public discourse including the media.


This guidance is designed to support organizations who are interested in scaling up their work on young people’s access to abortion and abortion-related services. It presents some ideas and strategies that have been tried by other organizations in order to help inspire and inform creative approaches for different contexts. Readers who are interested in adapting the techniques outlined in this document for their own programmes and contexts are welcome to contact the IPPF Central Office for more information about the programmes and partners currently implementing these practices.


This publication is part of a larger IPPF initiative called Girls Decide. The initiative aims to ensure that girls’ and young women’s sexuality and pregnancy-related issues are effectively addressed by leaders and service provider

This is the story of Bhakti who, after discovering she was pregnant decided to have an abortion, just like millions of other women around the world. Bhakti, who lives in India, shares her experience of why she decided to have an abortion, what her experience was like, and why access to safe abortion is so important for women in India.
“I had mixed feelings. I was sad because the pregnancy ended, but I was also relieved because, thanks to the clinic, my difficulties were over.”