The dilemma of a practice: experiences of abortion in a public maternity hospital in the city of Salvador, Bahia

Cecilia McCallum Greice Menezes Ana Paula dos Reis About the authors

Abstract

The article discusses abortion and miscarriage from the perspective of women admitted to a public maternity hospital in Salvador (BA), Brazil. Based on qualitative and quantitative research, it draws on participant observation of everyday hospital life. Taking an ethnographic approach, it addresses the hospital experiences of women who had miscarriages or induced abortions, also presenting the views of health professionals. It argues that the way the institution structures care for abortion and miscarriage involves symbolic processes that profoundly affect women’s experiences. The discrimination against women who have had abortions/miscarriages is an integral part of the structure, organization and culture of these institutions, and does not derive solely from the individual actions of healthcare personnel.

abortion; hospital ethnography; maternity; symbolic processes; obstetric violence

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