Rural New South Wales women's access to abortion services: Highlights from an exploratory qualitative study

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Abstract

Objective

The aim of the study was to identify factors that New South Wales (NSW) rural women experience in relation to their ability to access an abortion service and follow-up care.

Design

The qualitative responses from interviews are reported.

Setting

Rural and regional NSW.

Participants

Staff from community based non-government Women's Health Centres across regional/rural NSW and women in rural NSW who had accessed an abortion in the preceding fifteen years.

Main outcomes

A number of barriers that NSW rural women experience in relation to their ability to access an abortion and follow-up care were identified.

Results

The main barrier rural women experienced was travelling relatively long distances to access an abortion clinic because of lack of services in their local area. Women with limited financial resources needed to borrow money for the procedure and associated costs of travel and accommodation. Women's Health Centres provide a range of support and referral information. Lack of integrated care was reported.

Conclusions

Rural women's access to abortion services are impacted by the availability, accessibility and affordability of services and prevailing negative social attitudes. This exploratory study provides a snapshot of women's experiences of the process of seeking an abortion in rural NSW, where they are not available locally and women have to travel out of the area to access services. Findings indicate rural women experience multiple barriers in relation to their ability to access abortion services and follow-up care, which may impact on overall health outcomes.

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