Shame feels close to, but is different from guilt. While guilt is about feeling that you have hurt someone, or have broken a rule, shame is about feeling inferior. Guilt involves some action that you took. Shame involves feelings about yourself. Shame has many faces. Embarrassment, humiliation, self-consciousness, self-disgust, stigma, and mortification are the most common.
For those women who have shame after an abortion, humiliation is often the form of shame they experience. Stigma is the other common shame experience for women who have had an abortion. Althea experienced acute, overwhelming feelings of stigmatization after her abortion.
Even though abortion has been legal in the United States for over forty years, the stigma attached to it has not decreased. Some women who have had an abortion feel secretly marked or tainted, as thought they had a blemish of character that others would be repelled by if they knew about it.