Qualitative Health Research Network


Dr Rishita Nandagiri

“Can you keep a secret?": methodological considerations for qualitative abortion research

Seminar details

Dr Rishita Nandagiri was our last QHRN seminar speaker in August 2020.

Title: “Can you keep a secret?": methodological considerations for qualitative abortion research

Date: 4th August 2020

Time: 11:00-12:00

Location: Zoom


Empirical abortion research is shaped by the stigma, attitudes, and beliefs surrounding abortion experiences; requiring management of complex ethical and methodological issues. There is an inherent tension in conducting abortion research: (i) navigating secrecy to recruit participants who have terminated a pregnancy and are willing to reveal this information, while (ii) maintaining and securing that secrecy. This need for secrecy- by providers, gatekeepers, and women- profoundly affects research design. Drawing on nine months of primary qualitative research in two rural districts in India, I consider how every element of my research design is shaped by notions of secrecy and trust. I grapple with and attempt to account  for the roles that concealment, silence, and trust play in abortion research, and whether they can contribute to more responsive, flexible, and ethical research designs.


Dr Rishita Nandagiri is an LSE Fellow in Health and International Development, Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her current research focuses on abortion and reproductive justice in LMICs. Rishita serves on the IUSSP scientific panel for abortion research, is an editorial advisory board member of the BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health journal, and an external graduate member of the Centre for Reproduction, Technologies and Health (CORTH). She co-runs, with Joe Strong, ‘Abortion Book Club’- a book club that interrogates the depiction of abortion in fiction. She has previously worked with feminist movements and collectives on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and feminist organising.

Seminar recording

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