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French women’s experiences and opinions with in-country versus cross-border abortion travel: a mixed-methods paper
  1. Laura Rahm1,2,
  2. Silvia De Zordo3,
  3. Joanna Mishtal4,
  4. Giulia Zanini3,
  5. Camille Garnsey5,
  6. Derek Clougher3,
  7. Caitlin Gerdts6
  1. 1 Centre Population et Développement, Paris, France
  2. 2 Central European University, Wien, Austria
  3. 3 Department of Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4 Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
  5. 5 University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
  6. 6 Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Rahm; laura.rahm{at}


Objectives This is the first study contrasting the experience of women residing in France and travelling for abortion services inside and outside their country of residence. We compare travel reasons and costs as well as our study participants’ opinions of abortion legislation. The article documents legal and procedural barriers related to accessing local and timely abortions and provides policy recommendations to broaden care options.

Methods The study is based on a mixed-methods research design. Quantitative data were descriptively analysed using Stata and drawn from 100 surveys with in-country abortion seekers collected from 3 Parisian hospitals, and 57 surveys with French residents seeking abortion care in the Netherlands (42), Spain (10) and the UK (5). Qualitative data were thematically analysed using ATLAS.ti and drawn from 36 interviews with French residents (23 in-country abortion seekers and 13 cross-border abortion travellers).

Findings Gestational age (GA) limits were the key reason for cross-border travel, while lack of close-by, timely and good quality abortion care was the main driver for in-country abortion travel. Unlike in-country travellers, cross-border abortion seekers faced significant financial costs and burdens related to such travel. Partners, family members and service providers offered important support structures to both cross-border and in-country travellers.

Conclusions Legal time limits appeared to be the key driver for abortion-related travel of French residents. Having passed or being at risk of exceeding the GA limit caused women to travel outside their country or department of residence for abortion care.

  • abortion
  • contraception, barrier
  • qualitative research
  • reproductive Health
  • Reproductive Health Services
  • surveys and questionnaires

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • Contributors SDZ, JM and C Garnsey planned the study, developed the methodology, and validated the findings. LR and GZ collected the data. DC, C Garnsey, and C Gerdts curated the quantitative data. LR analysed the qualitative data and wrote the original draft. SDZ and JM reviewed and edited the paper.

    SDZ was principal investigator and guarantor of the study.

  • Funding This study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) via a Starting Grant awarded to Dr De Zordo (BAR2LEGAB, 680004), and hosted by the University of Barcelona. It was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad through grant RYC-2015-19206.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.