April 2019

Experiences with abortion counselling in Mexico City and Colombia: Addressing women's fears and concerns

Keefe-Oates B, Makleff S, Sa E, Janeth Forero L, Mendoza D, Antonio Olaya M, Avila Morales F, Friedman J, Baum S. Experiences with abortion counselling in Mexico City and Colombia: Addressing women's fears and concerns. Culture, Health & Sexuality. 2019. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2019.1604995.

Abstract: Despite liberalised abortion laws in Colombia and Mexico City, ongoing abortion-related stigma and lack of knowledge of abortion laws can impede access to care. Organisations offering abortion services may support women seeking services by providing counselling and information. We conducted 30 in-depth interviews with women in Colombia and Mexico City after their abortion to understand their feelings of stigma, fears and concerns before accessing services, and how abortion counselling addressed those concerns. Women in both regions cited concerns about abortion safety, fears of judgement from community members and some reported self-judgement or guilt. Before arriving to care, women in Colombia were unsure if they qualified for legal abortion under the current law, and many reported fearing legal or social repercussions for seeking an abortion, whereas women in Mexico knew they could access a legal abortion in Mexico City. Women in all clinics reported satisfaction with the counselling services and felt most of their concerns were addressed. However, most women said they continued to fear judgement from members of the community after their procedure. Service-delivery organisations can provide supportive services and decrease women’s fears and concerns, although interventions in communities are also needed to reduce stigma and improve information.