HD-Background Selector

2016 In Article

Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of global maternal mortality and morbidity. Zambia has among the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, however this alone does not guarantee access to safe abortion, and 30% of maternal mortality is attributable to unsafe procedures. Too little is known about the pathways women take to reach abortion services in such resource-poor settings, or what informs care-seeking behaviours, barriers and delays. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in 2013 with 112 women who accessed abortion-related care in a Lusaka tertiary government hospital at some point in their pathway. The sample included women seeking safe abortion and also those receiving hospital care following unsafe abortion. We identified a typology of three care-seeking trajectories that ended in the use of hospital services: clinical abortion induced in hospital; clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital; and non-clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital. Framework analyses of 70 transcripts showed that trajectories to a termination of an unwanted pregnancy can be complex and iterative. Individuals may navigate private and public formal healthcare systems and consult unqualified providers, often trying multiple strategies. We found four major influences on which trajectory a woman followed, as well as the complexity and timing of her trajectory: i) the advice of trusted others ii) perceptions of risk iii) delays in care-seeking and receipt of services and iv) economic cost. Even though abortion is legal in Zambia, girls and women still take significant risks to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Levels of awareness about the legality of abortion and its provision remain low even in urban Zambia, especially among adolescents. Unofficial payments required by some providers can be a major barrier to safe care. Timely access to safe abortion services depends on chance rather than informed exercise of entitlement.

2010 In Article

Little research in low-income countries has compared the social and cultural ramifications of loss in childbearing, yet the social experience of pregnancy loss and early neonatal death may affect demographers' ability to measure their incidence. Ninety-five qualitative reproductive narratives were collected from 50 women in rural southern Tanzania who had recently suffered infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or early neonatal death. An additional 31 interviews with new mothers and female elders were used to assess childbearing Norms and social consequences of loss in childbearing. We found that like pregnancy, stillbirth and early neonatal death are hidden because they heighten women's vulnerability to social and physical harm, and women's discourse and behaviors are under strong social control. To protect themselves from sorcery, spiritual interference, and gossip--as well as stigma should a spontaneous loss be viewed as an induced abortion--women conceal pregnancies and are advised Not to mourn or grieve for "immature" (late-term) losses. Twelve of 30 respondents with pregnancy losses had been accused of inducing an abortion; 3 of these had been subsequently divorced. Incommensurability between Western biomedical and local categories of reproductive loss also complicates measurement of losses. Similar gender inequalities and understandings of pregnancy and reproductive loss in other low-resource settings likely result in underreporting of these losses elsewhere. Cultural, terminological, and methodological factors that contribute to inaccurate measurement of stillbirth and early neonatal death must be considered in designing surveys and other research methods to measure pregnancy, stillbirth, and other sensitive reproductive events.

2015 In Article

BACKGROUND: Ugandan law prohibits abortion under all circumstances except where there is a risk for the woman's life. However, it has been estimated that over 250 000 illegal abortions are being performed in the country yearly. Many of these abortions are carried out under unsafe conditions, being one of the most common reasons behind the nearly 5000 maternal deaths per year in Uganda. Little research has been conducted in relation to societal views on abortion within the Ugandan society. This study aims to analyze the discourse on abortion as expressed in the two main daily Ugandan newspapers. METHOD: The conceptual content of 59 articles on abortion between years 2006-2012, from the two main daily English-speaking newspapers in Uganda, was studied using principles from critical discourse analysis. RESULTS: A religious discourse and a human rights discourse, together with medical and legal sub discourses frame the subject of abortion in Uganda, with consequences for who is portrayed as a victim and who is to blame for abortions taking place. It shows the strong presence of the Catholic Church within the medial debate on abortion. The results also demonstrate the absence of medial statements related to abortion made by political stakeholders. CONCLUSIONS: The Catholic Church has a strong position within the Ugandan society and their stance on abortion tends to have great influence on the way other actors and their activities are presented within the media, as well as how stakeholders choose to convey their message, or choose Not to publicly debate the Issue in question at all. To decrease the number of maternal deaths, we highlight the need for a more inclusive and varied debate that problematizes the current situation, especially from a gender perspective.

Malawian women in all sectors of society are suffering from social implications of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Unwanted pregnancies occur among women who have limited access to family planning and safe abortion. A legally restrictive setting for safe abortion services leads many women to unsafe abortion, which has consequences for them and their families. In-depth interviews were conducted with 485 Malawian stakeholders belonging to different political and social structures. Interviewees identified the impact of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion to be the greatest on young women. Premarital and extramarital pregnancies were highly stigmatized; stigma directly related to abortion was also found. Community-level discussions need to focus on reduction of stigma.

2015 In Article

Public health discourses on safe abortion assume the term to be unambiguous. However, qualitative evidence elicited from Kenyan women treated for complications of unsafe abortion contrasted sharply with public health views of abortion safety. For these women, safe abortion implied pregnancy termination procedures and services that concealed their abortions, shielded them from the law, were cheap and identified through dependable social networks. Participants contested the Notion that poor quality abortion procedures and providers are inherently dangerous, asserting them as key to women's preservation of a good self, management of stigma, and protection of their reputation, respect, social relationships, and livelihoods. Greater public health attention to the social dimensions of abortion safety is urgent.

2016 In Article

"Background: Unsafe abortion is an issue of public health concern and contributes significantly to maternal morbidity and mortality globally. Abortion evokes religious, moral, ethical, socio-cultural and medical concerns which mean it is highly stigmatized and this poses a threat to both providers and researchers. This study sought to explore challenges to providing safe abortion services from the perspective of health providers in Ghana. Methods: A descriptive qualitative study using in-depth interviews was conducted. The study was conducted in three (3) hospitals and five (5) health centres in the capital city in Ghana. Participants (n = 36) consisted of obstetrician/gynaecologists, nurse-midwives and pharmacists. Results: Stigma affects provision of safe-abortion services in Ghana in a number of ways. The ambiguities in Ghanaian abortion law and lack of overt institutional support for practitioners increased reluctance to openly provide for fear of stigmatisation and legal threat. Negative provider attitudes that stigmatised women seeking abortion care were frequently driven by socio-cultural and religious norms that highly stigmatise abortion practice. Exposure to higher levels of education, including training overseas, seemed to result in more positive, less stigmatising views towards the need for safe abortion services. Nevertheless, physicians open to practicing abortion were still very concerned about stigma by association. Conclusions: Stigma constitutes an overarching impediment for abortion service provision. It affects health providers providing such services and even researchers who study the subject. Exposure to wider debate and education seem to influence attitudes and values clarification training may prove useful. Proper dissemination of existing guidelines and overt institutional support for provision of safe services also needs to be rolled out. "

2016 In Article

Objectives: To compare the levels of abortion stigma in regions with high and low incidence of unsafe abortion in Kenya to explore whether abortion-related stigma is associated with incidence of unsafe abortion. Study Design: A cross-sectional survey of 759 women receiving abortion services in private and public health facilities in two counties located in regions with high and low incidence of unsafe abortion regions of Kenya. Results: Of the total respondents, 424 sought post-abortion care (PAC), whereas 335 sought induced abortion. Factor analysis revealed a four-factor model for examining individual-level stigma related to seeking an abortion. The mean of stigma scores for women in a Trans Nzoia was higher than in Machakos. (49.82 compared to 47.58, P 0.001). In the combined sample, respondents seeking PAC reported higher stigma scores compared to those seeking induced abortion. For the overall scale and subscales, stigma reduced with increases in the age of respondents (b = −7.7, P 0.001 for 25–34 years and b = −4.6, P 0.001 for 35–49 years). Regression anaysis showed that stigma decreased in the county with low incidence of unsafe abortion on interaction between with type of abortion service. Conclusions:Respondents from a county with higher incidence of unsafe abortion reported higher stigma scores compared to those from a county with lower incidence of unsafe abortion. Age, marital status, type of abortion service, and socioeconomic status of respondents were all significantly associaed with stigmatizing attitudes across the stigma scale's subscales. Young unmarried women, women who received PAC low socioeconomic background, and married women reported higher stigma scores.

2013 In Article

Although stigma towards HIV-positive women for both continuing and terminating a pregnancy has been documented, to date few studies have examined relative stigma towards one outcome versus the other. This study seeks to describe community attitudes towards each of two possible elective outcomes of an HIV-positive woman's pregnancy - induced abortion or birth - to determine which garners more stigma and document characteristics of community members associated with stigmatising attitudes towards each outcome. Data come from community-based interviews with reproductive-aged men and women, 2401 in Zambia and 2452 in Nigeria. Bivariate and multivariate analyses revealed that respondents from both countries overwhelmingly favoured continued childbearing for HIV-positive pregnant women, but support for induced abortion was slightly higher in scenarios in which anti-retroviral therapy (ART) was unavailable. Zambian respondents held more stigmatising attitudes towards abortion for HIV-positive women than did Nigerian respondents. Women held more stigmatising attitudes towards abortion for HIV-positive women than men, particularly in Zambia. From a sexual and reproductive health and rights perspective, efforts to assist HIV-positive women in preventing unintended pregnancy and to support them in their pregnancy decisions when they do become pregnant should be encouraged in order to combat the social stigma documented in this paper.

2012 In Article

Despite Zambia's relatively progressive abortion law, women continue to seek unsafe, illegal abortions. Four domains of abortion attitudes - support for legalization, immorality, rights, and access to services - were measured in 4 communities. A total of 668 people were interviewed. Associations among the 4 domains were inconsistent with expectations. The belief that abortion is immoral was widespread, but was Not associated with lack of support for legalization. Instead, it was associated with belief that women need access to safe services. These findings suggest that increasing awareness about abortion law in Zambia may be important for encouraging more favorable attitudes.

2016 In Article
Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of global maternal mortality and morbidity. Zambia has among the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, however this alone does Not guarantee access to safe abortion, and 30% of maternal mortality is attributable to unsafe procedures. Too little is known about the pathways women take to reach abortion services in such resource-poor settings, or what informs care-seeking behaviours, barriers and delays. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in 2013 with 112 women who accessed abortion-related care in a Lusaka tertiary government hospital at some point in their pathway. The sample included women seeking safe abortion and also those receiving hospital care following unsafe abortion. We identified a typology of three care-seeking trajectories that ended in the use of hospital services: clinical abortion induced in hospital; clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital; and Non-clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital. Framework analyses of 70 transcripts showed that trajectories to a termination of an unwanted pregnancy can be complex and iterative. Individuals may navigate private and public formal healthcare systems and consult unqualified providers, often trying multiple strategies. We found four major influences on which trajectory a woman followed, as well as the complexity and timing of her trajectory: i) the advice of trusted others ii) perceptions of risk iii) delays in care-seeking and receipt of services and iv) economic cost. Even though abortion is legal in Zambia, girls and women still take significant risks to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Levels of awareness about the legality of abortion and its provision remain low even in urban Zambia, especially among adolescents. Unofficial payments required by some providers can be a major barrier to safe care. Timely access to safe abortion services depends on chance rather than informed exercise of entitlement.