Exploring barriers to abortion care in countries with generally liberal abortion laws in Europe

From 2015-2021, Ibis collaborated with P.I. Dr. Silvia DeZordo at the University of Barcelona and Co-I Dr. Joanna Mishtal at the University of Central Florida on a five-year, mixed-methods, European Research Council funded study to explore barriers to legal abortion and travel for abortion within Europe.

The objectives of this multidisciplinary mixed-methods comparative research project are:

  • To examine the impact of legal, procedural, and social barriers to abortion care (gestational age limits, mandatory waiting periods, and conscientious objection) on people’s experiences with abortion, and assess the ways in which each specific barrier influences a patient’s decisions to seek illegal abortion and/or travel in search of abortion services within their own country or abroad;
  • To assess if and how these barriers delay gestational age at termination, increasing risks for their reproductive health;
  • To investigate the impact of abortion stigma within communities, including local sexual and reproductive health services, on people’s experiences with abortion care and their decisions to travel for care.  
  • To examine and compare how those of different nationalities, ages, and social/cultural backgrounds embody and challenge the laws and barriers to legal abortion that they face in their own countries.

In-country and cross-country abortion travel are the main consequences of barriers to legal abortion. Understanding the experiences and motivations of those traveling for abortion care will help to inform policy decisions related to the regulation of conscientious objection, expand the existing knowledge base, and formulate findings in a way that is accessible to health care providers, policymakers, and reproductive health advocacy organizations.