NYMC Faculty Publications

Restrictive Points of Entry Into Abortion Care in Ireland: A Qualitative Study of Expectations and Experiences With the Service

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Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters

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Obstetrics and Gynecology


This article focuses on access to early medical abortion care under Section 12 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, in Ireland and identifies existing barriers resulting from gaps in current policy design. The article draws primarily on qualitative interviews with 24 service users, 20 primary healthcare providers in the community and 27 key informants, including from grassroots groups that work with women from different migrant communities, to examine service users' experiences accessing early medical abortions on request up to 12 weeks gestation. The interviews were part of a wider mixed-methods study from 2020-2021 examining the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of abortion policy in Ireland. Our findings highlight care seekers' experiences with the GP-led service provision, including delays, facing non-providers, the mandatory three-day waiting period, and oversubscribed women's health and family planning clinics. Our findings also highlight the compounding challenges for migrants and additional barriers posed by the geographical distribution of the service and the 12-week gestational limit. Finally, it focuses on the remaining challenges for racialised and other marginalised groups. In order to provide a "thick description" of women's lives and the complexity of their experiences with abortion services in Ireland, we also present two narrative vignettes of service users, and their experiences with delays and navigating the healthcare system as migrants. To this effect, this article applies a reproductive justice framework to the results to highlight the compounding effects of these barriers on people located along multiple axes of social inequality.