'This Is Real Misery': Experiences of Women Denied Legal Abortion in Tunisia

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 18;10(12):e0145338. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145338. eCollection 2015.


Barriers to accessing legal abortion services in Tunisia are increasing, despite a liberal abortion law, and women are often denied wanted legal abortion services. In this paper, we seek to explore the reasons for abortion denial and whether these reasons had a legal or medical basis. We also identify barriers women faced in accessing abortion and make recommendations for improved access to quality abortion care. We recruited women immediately after they had been turned away from legal abortion services at two facilities in Tunis, Tunisia. Thirteen women consented to participate in qualitative interviews two months after they were turned away from the facility. Women were denied abortion care on the day they were recruited due to three main reasons: gestational age, health conditions, and logistical barriers. Nine women ultimately terminated their pregnancies at another facility, and four women carried to term. None of the women attempted illegal abortion services or self-induction. Further research is needed in order to assess abortion denial from the perspective of providers and medical staff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Refusal to Treat
  • Tunisia
  • Young Adult

Grant support

Funding for this work was provided by the Society of Family Planning (http://www.societyfp.org/, grant number SFPRF7-8) to DF. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.