Kate Cockrill and her research parter Antonio Biggs wanted to know if storytelling could help reduce the stigma around abortion. Aware of the harsh judgement often associated with abortion and other reproductive choices, the two researchers set out to explore what would happen if women were in an environment in which they felt safe disclosing their reproductive histories.

Cockrill and Biggs—Executive Director of Sea Change and Social Psychologist Researcher at the University of California, San Francisco’s ANSIRH, respectively—carefully recruited a total of 109 women from nine different states to form 13 book groups. In each group, participants read and discussed the book Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood & Abortion. The women, who openly expressed their excitement to discuss and debate varying opinions with their fellow book club members, were not made aware of the purpose of the study beforehand.

Most of the women knew each other and were already friends going into the study. However, they had kept quiet about their reproductive histories and had not felt comfortable sharing with their own friends that they had had abortions for fear of how that information would be received.

Of the 19 women who had previously had an abortion, 15 of them told their stories for the first time to their book groups. What they would soon discover is that many of them had more in common with their friends than they had ever known, and what they would soon recognize was that they had the capacity to change their friends’ perspectives on abortion with their own stories.

Source/ rest: msmagazine.com