Volume 118, Issue S2 p. S167-S171
Social consequences

Investigating social consequences of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion in Malawi: The role of stigma

Brooke A. Levandowski

Corresponding Author

Brooke A. Levandowski

Ipas, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

* Corresponding author: Brooke A. Levandowski, Senior Research and Evaluation Associate, Ipas, P.O. Box 5027, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA. Tel.: +1 919 960 6448; fax: +1 919 929 7687Search for more papers by this author
Linda Kalilani-Phiri

Linda Kalilani-Phiri

Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi

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Fannie Kachale

Fannie Kachale

Reproductive Health Unit, Malawi Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi

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Paschal Awah

Paschal Awah

Ipas, Africa Regional, Cameroon

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Godfrey Kangaude

Godfrey Kangaude

Ipas, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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Chisale Mhango

Chisale Mhango

Reproductive Health Unit, Malawi Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi

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First published: 22 August 2012
Citations: 68

Abstract

Malawian women in all sectors of society are suffering from social implications of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Unwanted pregnancies occur among women who have limited access to family planning and safe abortion. A legally restrictive setting for safe abortion services leads many women to unsafe abortion, which has consequences for them and their families. In-depth interviews were conducted with 485 Malawian stakeholders belonging to different political and social structures. Interviewees identified the impact of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion to be the greatest on young women. Premarital and extramarital pregnancies were highly stigmatized; stigma directly related to abortion was also found. Community-level discussions need to focus on reduction of stigma.