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Abortion regulation in Europe in the era of COVID-19: a spectrum of policy responses

journal contribution
posted on 25.11.2020, 02:46 by C Moreau, Mridula Shankar, A Glasier, S Cameron, K Gemzell-Danielsson
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Background Unprecedented public health actions restricting movement and non-COVID related health services are likely to have affected abortion care during the pandemic in Europe. In the absence of a common approach to ensure access to this essential health service, we sought to describe the variability of abortion policies during the outbreak in Europe in order to identify strategies that improve availability and access to abortion in times of public health crises. Methods We collected information from 46 countries/regions: 31 for which country-experts completed a survey and 15 for which we conducted a desk review. We describe abortion regulations and changes to regulations and practice during the pandemic. Results During COVID-19, abortions were banned in six countries and suspended in one. Surgical abortion was less available due to COVID-19 in 12 countries/regions and services were not available or delayed for women with COVID-19 symptoms in eleven. No country expanded its gestational limit for abortion. Changes during COVID-19, mostly designed to reduce in-person consultations, occurred in 13 countries/regions. Altogether eight countries/regions provided home medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol beyond 9weeks (from 9 weeks+6 days to 11 weeks+6 days) and 13 countries/regions up to 9weeks (in some instances only misoprostol could be taken at home). Only six countries/regions offered abortion by telemedicine. Conclusions The lack of a unified policy response to COVID-19 restrictions has widened inequities in abortion access in Europe, but some innovations including telemedicine deployed during the outbreak could serve as a catalyst to ensure continuity and equity of abortion care.

History

Publication Date

22/10/2020

Journal

BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health

Pagination

8p. (p. 1-8)

Publisher

BMJ Publishing Group

ISSN

2515-1991

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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