Psychology, Department of



Rachel L. Dyer

Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2023

DOI: 10.1177/03616843231173673


Copyright © 2023 Rachel L. Dyer, Olivia R. Checkalski, and Sarah J. Gervais. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission


Women-centered anti-abortion rhetoric, grounded in ostensibly positive beliefs that pregnant people are precious objects who must be protected from having abortions, has proliferated anti-abortion activism and legislation. However, abortion stigma, marked by negative perceptions of people who terminate pregnancies, is the most widely used theoretical tool for understanding the social and psychological implications of abortion. In this article, we first integrate these two seemingly contradictory perspectives on abortion through the lens of ambivalent sexism theory. We then argue that ambivalent sexism paves the way for objectifying perceptions and treatment of pregnant people; specifically, our typology of reproductive objectification provides a tool for exploring how the abortion decision-making of pregnant people is undermined. Through this lens, abortion decisions can represent a subversion of these portrayals and treatment by affirming people who seek and have abortions as whole human beings. Throughout, we aim to counter White supremacy and cisheteropatriarchy, which have marked public discourse and psychological research on abortion. Finally, using this reproductive objectification framework, recommendations for clinicians and researchers are provided.