September 2020

Gestational age limits for abortion and cross‐border reproductive care in Europe: A mixed‐methods study

De Zordo S, Zanini G, Mishtal, Garnsey C, Ziegler A-K, Gerdts C. Gestational age limits for abortion and cross‐border reproductive care in Europe: a mixed‐methods study. Obstetrics and Gynaecology. September 2020.

Objectives: Little is known about the experiences of women who travel within Europe for abortion care from countries with relatively liberal laws. This paper aims to assess the primary reasons for travel among a sample of women who travelled from European countries with relatively liberal abortion laws to obtain abortion care mainly in the UK and the Netherlands.

Design: Multi‐country, 5‐year mixed methods study on barriers to legal abortion and travel for abortion.

Setting: UK, the Netherlands and Spain.

Population or Sample: We present quantitative data from 204 surveys, and qualitative data from 30 in‐depth interviews with pregnant people who travelled to the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain from countries where abortion is legal on broad grounds within specific gestational age (GA) limits.

Methods: Mixed‐methods.

Main Outcome Measures: GA when presenting at abortion clinic, primary reason for abortion‐related travel.

Results: Study participants overwhelmingly reported travelling for abortion because they had exceeded GA limits in their country of residence. Participants also reported numerous delays and barriers to receiving care.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need for policies that support access to abortion throughout pregnancy and illustrate that early access to it is necessary, but not sufficient to meet people’s reproductive health needs.