This study has been conducted by Cecilia Espinoza (Ipas Senior Advocacy Advisor), Ghazaleh Samandari (Independent consultant) and Kathryn Andersen (Chief Scientific and Technical Officer) from Ipas, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Adolescent girls comprise a considerable proportion of annual abortion deaths, worldwide, with 15% of all unsafe abortions taking place among girls under 20 years of age. Despite recent global attention to the health and welfare of adolescent girls, little is known about their abortion experience, particularly of those under the age of 15 years.
This review examines existing peer-reviewed and grey literature on abortion-related experiences of adolescent girls, paying particular attention to girls ages 10–14.
In December 2019, the authors conducted a comprehensive search of five major online resource databases, using a two-part keyword search strategy for articles from 2003 to 2019. Of the original 3,100+ articles, 1,228 were individually screened and 35 retained for inclusion in the analysis.
Findings of the study show that while adolescent girls may have knowledge of abortion in general, they lack specific knowledge of sources of care and delay care-seeking due to the fear of stigma, lack of resources and provider bias. Adolescent girls do not experience higher rates of physical complications compared to older cohorts, but they are at risk of psychosocial harm. For girls ages 10–14, abortion experience may be compounded by pregnancy due to sexual abuse or transactional sex, and they face even more barriers to care than older adolescents in terms of provider bias and lack of agency.
Adolescents have unique needs and experiences around abortion, which should be accounted for in programming and advocacy. Adolescent girls need information about safe abortion at an early age and a responsive and stigma-free health system.
Source: Taylor & Francis
Reference image source: WomenLog