Northern Ireland's abortion laws permit the procedure only to preserve a woman's life or prevent permanent long-term physical or mental injury. Any abortion taking place outside the law is punishable by up to life in prison.
Abigail Aiken, an assistant professor of public affairs and a fellow of the Richter Chair in Global Health Policy at the LBJ School, conducted anonymous in-depth interviews with 30 women living in Northern Ireland who either traveled to England to obtain an abortion in a clinic or who self-managed a medication abortion at home using online telemedicine. Results, which were peer-reviewed and published in BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, show barriers to traveling for abortion services, including the cost of travel, the inability to receive care confidentially and the challenges of arranging child care or taking time away from work.
Policy - Change - Abortions - Women - Northern
"The recent policy change to provide free abortions for women traveling from Northern Ireland to clinics in Great Britain has not been sufficient to create a reliable and accessible pathway to care," Aiken said. "In addition to the physical toll and emotional stress of traveling overseas, many women do not have the required travel documents or need to keep their abortions secret from their families or communities."
Women in the study often said they found self-managing their abortions at home with medication more acceptable than travel. But those in the study who chose this option said they experienced severe anxiety about when or even whether they...
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