December 2021

In-person later abortion accompaniment: A feminist collective-facilitated self-care practice in Latin America

Bercu C, Moseson H, McReynolds-Pérez J, Salamea EW, Grosso B, Trpin M, Zurbriggen R, Cisternas C, Meza M, Díaz V, Kimport K. 
In-person later abortion accompaniment: A feminist collective-facilitated self-care practice in Latin America. Sexual and Reproductive
Health Matters.
 December 2021. DOI: 10.1080/26410397.2021.2009103

In Argentina, Chile and Ecuador, abortion at later durations of pregnancy is legally restricted. Feminist collectives in these contexts support people through self-managed medical abortion outside the healthcare system. The model of in-person abortion accompaniment represents an opportunity to examine a self-care practice that challenges and reimagines abortion provision.

We formed a collaborative partnership built on a commitment to shared power and decision-making between researchers and partners. We conducted 28 key informant interviews with accompaniers in Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador in 2019 about their model of in-person abortion accompaniment at later durations of pregnancy. We iteratively coded transcripts using a thematic analysis approach. Accompaniers premised their work in a feminist activist framework that understands accompaniment as addressing inequalities and expanding rights, especially for the historically marginalized.

Through a detailed description of the process of in-person accompaniment, we show that the model, including the logistical considerations and security mechanisms put in place to ensure favorable abortion outcomes, emphasizes peer-to-peer provision of supportive physical and emotional care of the accompanied person. In this way, it represents supported self-care through which individuals are centered as the protagonists of their own abortion, while being accompanied by feminist peers. This model of supported self-care challenges the idea that “self-care” necessarily means “solo care,” or care that happens alone. The model’s focus on peer-to-peer transfer of knowledge, providing emotional support, and centering the accompanied person not only expands access to abortion, but represents person-centred practices that could be scaled and replicated across contexts.