5 years ago

To be, or not to be, referred: A qualitative study of women from Burma's access to legal abortion care in Thailand

Angel M. Foster, Grady Arnott, Eh Tho, Niru Guroong

by Grady Arnott, Eh Tho, Niru Guroong, Angel M. Foster


Reproductive health outcomes among women from Burma who live along the Thailand-Burma border demonstrate an unmet need for access to safe abortion services. In 2014, a multi-national team launched a collaborative three-year initiative to expand a program that refers eligible women for safe and legal abortion care to government Thai hospitals in Tak province, Thailand.


Over a six-month period we conducted 14 in-depth open-ended interviews with women from Burma who were referred through the program or denied a wanted abortion after being deemed ineligible for referral by staff at the participating clinic. We analyzed the interviews for content and themes using both deductive and inductive techniques.


Women’s experiences accessing legal abortion care were positive and facilitated by appropriate options counseling, logistical support, and financial coverage. Five of the ineligible women we interviewed used traditional methods accessed on both sides of the border to self-induce an abortion and/or visited an untrained and unregulated provider.


Our findings highlight the need to redouble efforts to expand access to safe and legal abortion care for women from Burma residing in northern Thailand. Ensuring that women who are denied a safe and legal abortion receive harm reduction interventions and resources is critical.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179365

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