Ritualizing Abortion: A Qualitative Study on Ritual and Its Meanings in the Netherlands

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The present study investigates ritualizing abortion in the Netherlands. Explorative, qualitative research was conducted with semi-structured interviews (n = 13) with women who looked for counseling and 43 online personal stories about the abortion from the website of a national care and expertise center. The results reveal three main categories of ritualizing: (1) creating and using symbols privately and online, (2) remembering or honoring the experience and (3) embodied ritualizing. The data reveal that respondents find meaning in the ritualizing through sharing the experience with others, expressing various feelings through symbolic and ritual forms, fostering a connection with the child-to-be, showing respect, seeking closure and transforming the experience in a meaningful way. This research reveals types of ritualizing practices in relation to a meaningful life event such as abortion. For a specific group of women experiencing decision difficulty or existential concerns in relation to the abortion, ritualizing might be an interesting tool to be incorporated into post-abortion care practices.




Biel, K., Braam, A. W., & Wojtkowiak, J. (2022). Ritualizing Abortion: A Qualitative Study on Ritual and Its Meanings in the Netherlands. Religions, 13(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070592

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