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The impact of Northern Ireland’s laws on women seeking abortion

Despite Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom, abortion remains illegal there except in very limited circumstances. Aiken and colleagues interviewed 30 women who had sought abortion by travelling to clinics in Great Britain or by using online telemedicine to self-manage a medication abortion at home. The key themes that emerged from the in-depth interviews were that there are multiple barriers to travelling for abortion services even when abortion is provided without charge, that self-management is often preferred over travel, that Customs can obstruct import of abortion medications, and that there is mistrust of the healthcare system because of fears regarding the legal obligations of healthcare professionals. Northern Ireland’s abortion laws affect the quality and safety of women’s healthcare and can have serious implications for women’s physical and emotional health. This study’s findings offer new perspectives for the debate over Northern Ireland’s abortion laws and suggest a public health rationale for decriminalising abortion. See page 3

Intimate partner violence and pregnancy decision by underprivileged women in India

Numerous factors are implicated in the high rate of unintended pregnancy in India, including lack of education, poverty, social factors such as son preference, and intimate partner violence (IPV). Dasgupta and colleagues analysed data from a large study of mothers of infants in slum communities in Mumbai, focussing on the relationship between IPV, ’external' decision-making by husbands and in-laws, and unintended pregnancy. Women who reported externally-decided pregnancies and pre-pregnancy IPV were significantly more likely to have had mistimed pregnancies than intended pregnancies, reflecting the low engagement of married women in family planning decisions. Although mistimed, the recent pregnancies were not generally reported as ’unwanted', and the authors discuss possible reasons for this finding. This study highlights the need for women’s involvement in reproductive decision-making an in formulating messages on IPV reduction when women’s healthcare services are being programmed. See page 10

Innovative approaches to safer sex: messages from imprisoned American women

For incarcerated …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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