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10.11.2017 | Ausgabe 6/2017

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 6/2017

‘If You Choose to Abort, You Have Acted As an Instrument of Satan’: Zimbabwean Health Service Providers’ Negative Constructions of Women Presenting for Post Abortion Care

Zeitschrift:
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine > Ausgabe 6/2017
Autoren:
Malvern Chiweshe, Catriona Macleod

Abstract

Purpose

Health service providers play a crucial role in providing post abortion care in countries where abortion legislation is restrictive and abortion is stigmatised. Research in countries where these factors apply has shown that health service providers can be barriers to women accessing post abortion services. Much of this research draws from attitude theory. In this paper, we utilise positioning theory to show how the ways in which Zimbabwean health service providers’ position women and themselves are rooted in cultural and social power relations. In light of recent efforts by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and foreign organisations to improve post abortion care, we explore the implications that these positionings have for post abortion care.

Method

As part of a larger study on abortion decision-making, the data featured in this article were collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews with six health service providers working in different facilities in Harare, Zimbabwe. Discursive and positioning thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results

Our analysis points to women who have abortions being positioned in negative terms, as transgressors of acceptable norms; irresponsible and manipulative; and ignorant. The health service providers drew from cultural, religious, gender and trauma discourses that portray abortion as evil and socially unacceptable. Reflexive positions taken up by the health service providers include positions as being experts, helpers and protectors of culture/religion, sympathisers and professional positions as health care providers.

Conclusion

The continued strengthening of post abortion services should be conducted in conjunction with dialogical interventions that challenge health service providers to reflect on the power relations within which women who terminate pregnancies are located, that contest their negative positionings of these women and that present alternative narratives and subject positionings for both the women who have abortions and the health service providers.

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