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Access to Formal Abortion Services and Demand for Medical Abortion in Turkey: A mixed-method study
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  • Hazal Atay,
  • Bilge Eylem Dedeoglu,
  • Ugur Berkay Balkanci,
  • Efekan Sadak,
  • Rebecca Gomperts
Hazal Atay
Sciences Po

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Bilge Eylem Dedeoglu
Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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Ugur Berkay Balkanci
University of Minnesota School of Public Health
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Efekan Sadak
Women on Web International Foundation
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Rebecca Gomperts
Women on Web International Foundation
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Objective: To analyse perceived barriers to access to formal abortion services and the demand for medical abortion in Turkey Design: Mixed-method study Population sample: Pregnant women in Turkey who filled the consultation survey on Women on Web website between 1 January 2013 and 12 October 2020 Method: Our dataset includes anonymized responses of 620 women to the online consultation survey and anonymized email correspondences of 138 women with the WoW help desk. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the survey data and a content analysis of email correspondences. Main outcome measures: Perceived barriers to formal abortion services in Turkey Results: The surveyors listed various reasons for requesting an abortion; while 59.68% of them mentioned that they just cannot have a child at this point, financial constraints (49.84%), wanting to finish school (31.77%) and being too young (31.29%) were among the leading reasons. Several barriers to access to formal abortion services were reported; the most frequently cited barriers include cost (48.31%), the need to keep abortion secret from partner or family (42.69%) and unavailability of abortion pills (44.94%). Our qualitative analysis of women’s email correspondences has demonstrated some additional barriers to and concerns over the formal abortion services. These include censorship of abortion information and misinformation, denial of care, concerns over spousal consent, cost, abortion method, trust, and confidentiality. Conclusions: We conclude that despite the legal framework, abortion remains difficult to access and approach for women in Turkey due to legal barriers and concerns over formal abortion services.