2017 Health and Social Protection Other

Increasing Access to Abortion

Susanne Sjöström

Increased knowledge and awareness as well as changes in the legal framework has contributed to decreased maternal mortality caused by unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion. Despite this progress access to abortion and contraception remains controversial in a global perspective and numbers of preventable maternal deaths are still high. The aim of this thesis was to study factors that influence access to comprehensive abortion care focusing on increasing provider availability in different settings. Four studies were included that explored factors influencing provision of, and treatment for abortion including post abortion care.

This report was presented during the seminar SRHR.

Main findings

  • In India, where abortion has been legal since 1971 but where abortion-related maternal mortality rates remain high, students commonly misunderstood the laws regulating abortion and were uninformed about available abortion methods.
  • A study conducted in Sweden showed that abortion care given by midwives is not only as safe but also much cheaper than when given by doctors.
  • A systematic overview of randomised studies of abortion care also showed that women find that medical abortions and treatments for incomplete abortions administered by nurses and midwives are just as acceptable as those administered by doctors.

Susanne Sjöström is an obstetrician at Danderyds sjukhus. She defended her thesis Increasing access to abortion – perspectives on provider availability in different settings at Karolinska institutet in Januari 2017. Her work has been published in Contraception, BMC Medical Education, Plos One, and is approved for publication in BJOG.