• Elisabeth Nygaard
  • Elsubet Vidtfeldt
4. semester, Psykologi, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The Faroe Islands has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, which dates back to 1956. Reproductive autonomy, including abortion, is established as a human right by several world organisations and thereby, the Faroe Islands infringes on women's rights by limiting access to abortion. Existing psychological research on abortion is mostly limited to the mental health consequences of abortion and the safety of the procedure. Little is known of the possible consequences limiting access to abortion has on women and their mental health. This knowledge and the authors' personal interest as Faroese women founded an interest in examining the possible consequences of limiting women's reproductive autonomy.
The current master's thesis examines how limited reproductive autonomy affects Faroese women and the larger societal context in which the restrictive abortion law is embedded. The thesis is split into two parts. The first part is an article utilising grounded theory, which seeks to answer the question: "How does having limited reproductive autonomy affect Faroese women?". It examines Faroese women's accounts of living in the Faroe Islands and their experience with abortion, the abortion debate and living in a society with a restrictive abortion law. The second part frames the psychological consequences of the restrictive abortion law and the larger societal context of oppression to better understand the psychological mechanisms involved in infringing on women's rights. Relevant themes and categories are identified and further elaborated.
Serial in-depth interviews were conducted with four Faroese women, amounting to 12 interviews in total. The interviews were coded using a grounded theory method, and the authors utilised constant comparative analysis.
Multiple views on abortion highlight the influence of sociocultural and religious factors such as gender norms, religious values conservative societal expectations for women shaping abortion attitudes in the Faroe Islands. The interviews indicate that the Faroese women in the current study must constantly navigate and negotiate their reproductive roles in Faroese society. One person in our study reported not feeling negatively impacted by living in the Faroe Islands, was against abortion and thought the abortion law protected women. However, the analysis uncovered the negative psychological impact of limited reproductive autonomy for the other three women. The findings indicate that they experienced abortion-related stigma and shame, leading to guilt, isolation and a sense of being judged by others. The findings further indicate that self-blame and guilt made one participant question her choices and believe she did something wrong. Three of the Faroese women reported emotional distress as they grappled with conflicting emotions and feelings such as sadness, anger, and concern. Two women had difficulty identifying as Faroese women and felt the urge to migrate from the Faroe Islands. In the framing paper, relevant social and personality psychological theories were used to examine the women's reactions to understand sociocultural factors better
The results are discussed according to existing research on abortion and mental health, abortion stigma and shame, and migration from the Faroe Islands. In the framing paper, the results are further analysed and discussed concerning social and personality psychology and the impact on shame and stigma.
The results of this grounded theory study indicate several ways in which limited reproductive autonomy affects the Faroese women in the current study. There were mental health consequences for women having abortions and women who felt they had to fight for their rights. The debate in the Faroe Islands was stigmatising and had negative psychological consequences for the women listening. Some women in the study reported feeling alienated by the Faroe Islands and sought elsewhere to escape the stigma and shaming. Lastly, institutional, interpersonal and internalised oppression were uncovered from the women's statements and experiences, contributing to learned helplessness, shame, and feelings of having morally transgressed against societal norms in the Faroe Islands.
Udgivelsesdato1 jun. 2023
Antal sider45
ID: 532502289