Clarifying values and transforming attitudes to improve access to second trimester abortion

Turner KL

Hyman AG

Gabriel MC

Reproductive Health Matters
May 2008


Access to safe second trimester abortion services is poor in many countries, sometimes despite liberal laws and policies. Addressing the myriad factors hindering access to safe abortion care requires a multi-pronged strategy. Workshops aimed at clarifying values are useful for addressing barriers to access stemming from misinformation, stigmatization of women and providers, and negative attitudes and obstructionist behaviours. They engage health care providers and administrators, policymakers, community members and others in a process of self-examination with the goal of transforming abortion-related attitudes and behaviours in a direction supportive of women seeking abortion. This is especially important for women seeking second trimester abortion, which tends to be even more stigmatized than first trimester abortion. This paper reports on some promising experiences and results from workshops in Viet Nam, Nepal and South Africa. Some recommendations that emerge are that values clarification should be included in abortion training, service delivery and advocacy programmes. Evaluations of such interventions are also needed.