At least 300,000 teenage abortions take place in Vietnam each year, accounting for 20% of total abortion procedures in the country. Premarital sex, pregnancy and abortion remain to result in strong social and familial repercussions given that they remain culturally unacceptable and considered taboo. Abortion is often a woman’s most stressful life event, particularly among young and unmarried woman who may lack critical coping skills and in the context of high abortion stigma. Among three forms of abortion stigma (perceived, enacted and IAS), IAS – women’s own negative attitudes toward abortion – affected most unmarried women in our study, particularly those who used ‘silence strategies’ to conceal their pregnancy/abortion and cope with stigma. IAS often manifests through feelings of fear, regret, shame and guilt, which are strongly associated with low self-esteem, poor expectations and coping abilities, and low levels of anticipated social supports.Critically, IAS is associated with persistent negative health consequences such as depression, anxiety disorders, other mental health disorders, and even suicidal behavior[4,5]. Further, as coping mechanisms for stigma, many women may feel compelled to seek comfort in behaviors that may put them at increased risk (i.e., alcohol consumption, drug use, unprotected sex). Consistent findings across several studies have documented the strong linkage between pre- and post- abortion depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms with abortion stigma, and recommend reducing abortion stigma to promote post-abortion mental health.
The project aims to provide young and unmarried post-abortion women the necessary knowledge and skills to cope effectively with IAS and its impacts, as well as to use appropriate contraceptive methods to prevent repeated unwanted pregnancy.
The project has been funded by Safe Abortion Action Fund for three years, starting from April 2018 up to May 2021
The key activities of the project are as follows: 1) Technical group meetings; 2) Conduct a formative research; 3) Develop web-based and mobile apps intervention; 4) Recruit and provide trainings for online counsellors; 5) Adapt, develop and pre-test questionnaire tools; 6) Baseline and end-line survey; 7) Dissemination workshop.
The project was stopped because of funding termination.
1. HCMC Sub-department of Population and Family Planning, (2013) Vietnam tops Southeast Asia in Abortion among minors. http://tuoitrenews.vn/society/11574/vietnam-tops-southeast-asia-in-abortion-among-minors
2. Adler NE, David HP, Major BN, Roth SH, Russo NF, Wyatt GE. Psychological factors in abortion. A review. Am Psychol 1992;47:1194–204.
3. Major B, Cozzarelli C, Sciacchitano AM, Cooper ML, Testa M, Mueller PM. Perceived social support, self-efﬁcacy, and adjustment to abortion. J Pers Soc Psychol 1990;59:452–63.
4. Ha H, Le D, Nguyen L et al., Grant Study Report funded Inroads: Abortion Stigma in Vietnam-Manifestation and Impact (2015)
5. Orner P et al. A qualitative exploration of HIV-positive pregnant women’s decision-making regarding abortion in Cape Town, South Africa. J Soc Aspects HIV/AIDS . 2010.7(2):44–51.
6. Ha et al. (2014) Homosexuality-Related Stigma and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Men Who Have Sex with Men, Hanoi, Vietnam, Archives of Sexual Behavior, .DOI: 10.1007/s10508-014-0450-8
7. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697.
8. Steinberg JR et al., Psychosocial factors and pre-abortion psychological health: the significance of stigma. Soc Sci Med. 2016 February ; 150: 67–75. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.007.