Legal restrictions on abortion access impact the safety and timing of abortion. Women affected by these laws face barriers to safe care that often result in abortion being delayed. Second-trimester abortion affects vulnerable groups of women disproportionately and is often more difficult to access. In Argentina, where abortion is legally restricted except in cases of rape or threat to the health of the woman, the Socorristas en Red, a feminist network, offers a model of accompaniment wherein they provide information and support to women seeking second-trimester abortions. This qualitative analysis aimed to understand Socorristas' experiences supporting women who have second-trimester medication abortion outside the formal health care system.
We conducted 2 focus groups with 16 Socorristas in total to understand experiences accompanying women having second-trimester medication abortion who were at 14–24 weeks’ gestational age. We performed a thematic analysis of the data and present key themes in this article.
The Socorristas strived to ensure that women had the power of choice in every step of their abortion. These cases required more attention and logistical, legal and medical risks than first-trimester care. The Socorristas learned how to help women manage the possibility of these risks and were comfortable providing this support. They understood their work as activism through which they aim to destigmatize abortion and advocate against patriarchal systems denying the right to abortion.
Socorrista groups have shown that they can provide supportive, women-centered accompaniment during second-trimester medication abortions outside the formal health care system in a setting where abortion access is legally restricted.
Second-trimester self-use of medication abortion outside of the formal health system supported by feminist activist groups could provide an alternative model for second-trimester care worldwide. More research is needed to document the safety and effectiveness of this accompaniment service-provision model.