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(Re)conceptualising abortion safety: centering lived realities

Nandagiri, Rishita ORCID: 0000-0003-4424-769X (2022) (Re)conceptualising abortion safety: centering lived realities. In: Abortion + SRH seminar series, 2022-05-04, Online.

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“Safety” is a driving concern in abortion care provision, shaping laws, policies, care guidelines and public discourse, but remains largely understood within biomedical and legal frames. Evidence highlights - irrespective of understandings of safety- that abortion seekers often risk their health and lives to access abortion. Definitions of abortion safety have shifted from a binary understanding of safe/unsafe to a spectrum of risk that accounts for a range of methods, risk profiles and legal settings that affects abortion safety and outcomes. Yet, these newer definitions still fail to adequately account for social and political contexts of abortion seekers’ lives that shape perceptions and experiences of “safety” and “risk”. This is because "safety" and "risk" are also socially constructed, evolving over time and context. Theorisations of safety and risk attach a set of meanings to abortion (e.g., good/bad abortions), which then constitute and influence abortion seekers’ relationships with their partners and families, and their interactions with health facilities and providers. Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n=31) conducted in two rural districts in Karnataka, India in 2017, this seminar reflects on current understandings and classifications of abortion safety. I suggest expanding existing approaches by linking it to women’s needs, their contexts of abortion-seeking and treatment, and their experiences of navigating care. Centring women’s experiences, negotiations, and understandings of abortion-related care allows for an exploration of what, for them, constitutes safety in abortion access, care, and outcomes. This disrupts entrenched notions of who is considered a provider, what constitutes ‘trained’ and what the ‘minimum standards’ are for a "safe" abortion environment; challenging how un/safe abortion is currently conceptualised. This can potentially expand understandings of abortion safety beyond clinical and biomedical outcomes to account for the broader conditions that women experience and negotiate in seeking safe(r) abortion care.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 08:57
Last Modified: 31 May 2022 09:03

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