Social determinants of health, as defined by Google are economic and social conditions as well as their distribution throughout the population. This can lead to differences in health outcomes in the individuals in the population. Some of these social determinants as defined by the World Health Organization include occupation, social inclusion/exclusion, and education (Marmot, 2005). Furthermore, different people in a society may have different outcomes in their health because of these different social determinants. Intersectionality plays a large role in determining who suffers from what social determinant; a lower class black woman will most likely have less access to healthcare than an upper class white male.
In this blog post I will focus on the social determinants affecting women seeking abortions in Ireland and what impact this may have on them. I will be focusing on social inclusion/exclusion of women seeking abortion specifically. A recent study found that social exclusion has “a major impact on health and premature death” (Wilkinson and Marmot, 2003). Women who are seeking abortions are shunned and even forced to leave the country, making them feel like they do not fit in or are outcasts of society (Abortion, 2018). This could negatively impact their health in many ways, from getting care that is not adequate to psychological impacts on them once they feel like outcasts. Moreover, the World Health organization has found that girls and women internalize their problems and feelings leading to a manifestation of “psychosomatic symptoms or mental health problems” (Currie, et al., 2010). Thus it is fair to say that women seeking abortion are subject to the social determinant of social exclusion which greatly impacts their health negatively.
Effects from social exclusion can also be traced back to politics- abortion has become a highly politicized issue and this makes it so much more difficult to change the social norm and makes it “everyone’s issue” because it is in the public forum. This puts the spotlight on women and causes them to receive more social shunning; consider, for example women seeking abortions going to a clinic and having to walk past protesters with signs screaming at them. This is a highly stressful and stigmatizing situation for a person to endure.
Politics can be used to change social determinants for the better, however. One article details ways politics can (or should) be used to help lessen the damage or social determinants. Furthermore, it describes how public health officials who identify these issues can use public forums to change/make policies to help disadvantaged or struggling individuals (Mackenbach, 2014). This is important because this is exactly what happened in Ireland when amendment eight was repealed. It was important because it eliminated the political part of a social determinant that was negatively impacting women seeking abortion. They no longer have to leave the country to get an abortion and because it is no longer illegal they will not feel like they are outcasts doing illegal activities; they can have the procedure done in the comfort of their home country.
In conclusion, there are many social determinants affecting the health of women seeking an abortion in Ireland; however, there has been progress to remove these determinants and the future is bright for women in this situation in terms of their health.
“Abortion Statistics, England and Wales.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 7 June 2018, www.gov.uk/government/collections/abortion-statistics-for-england-and-wales.
Currie, Candace, et al. “Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being among Young People .” MSU Anthropology , World Health Organization, 2010, www.hbsc.unito.it/it/images/pdf/hbsc/prelims-part1.pdf.
Mackenbach, Johan P. “Political Determinants of Health.” Department of Public Health, 2014, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Political-Determs-of-Hlth-Mackenbach-2014.pdf.
Marmot, Michael. “Social Determinants of Health Inequalities .” MSU Anthropology , International Center for Health and Society, 2005, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Social-determinants-of-health-inqualities-Marmot-2005.pdf.
Wilkinson, Richard, and Michael Marmot. “Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts.” Anthropology MSU, World Health Organization, 2003, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Soc-Determs-of-Hlth-the-solid-facts-WHO-2003.pdf.