Access to and experience of later abortion: accounts from women in Scotland

Purcell, C. , Cameron, S., Caird, L., Flett, G., Laird, G., Melville, C. and McDaid, L. M. (2014) Access to and experience of later abortion: accounts from women in Scotland. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 46(2), pp. 101-108. (doi:10.1363/46e1214) (PMID:24785904)

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Abstract

Context: Except in the presence of significant medical indications, the legal limit for abortion in Great Britain is 24 weeks’ gestation. Nevertheless, abortion for nonmedical reasons is not usually provided in Scotland after 18–20 weeks, meaning women have to travel to England for the procedure. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 women presenting for "later" abortions (i.e., at 16 or more weeks’ gestation) in Scotland. Participants were women who sought an abortion at a participating National Health Service clinic between January and July 2013. Interviews addressed reasons for and consequences of later presentation, as well as women's experiences of abortion. Thematic analysis attended to emerging issues and employed the conceptual tool of candidacy. Results: Delayed recognition of pregnancy, changed life circumstances and conflicting candidacies for motherhood and having an abortion were common reasons for women's presentation for later abortion. Women perceived that the resources required to travel to England for a later abortion were potential barriers to access, and felt that such travel was distressing and stigmatizing. Participants who continued their pregnancy did so after learning they were at a later gestational age than expected or after receiving assurances of support from partners, friends or family. Conclusions: Reasons for seeking later abortion are complex and varied among women in Scotland, and suggest that reducing barriers to access and improving local provision of such abortions are a necessity. The candidacy framework allows for a fuller understanding of the difficulties involved in obtaining abortions.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was commissioned and funded by the Scottish Government, and conducted by the MRC/CSO (Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office) Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. Funding was also provided by grant MC_U130031238/MC_UU_12017/2 from the UK Medical Research Council.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Purcell, Dr Carrie and McDaid, Professor Lisa
Authors: Purcell, C., Cameron, S., Caird, L., Flett, G., Laird, G., Melville, C., and McDaid, L. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1538-6341
ISSN (Online):1931-2393
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 46(2):101-108
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656571Sexual Health and Families ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/2IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU