In all probability, the first study ever conducted on Polish abortion tourism is completed. According to some authors, abortion tourism as such is not a new phenomenon, however there is not much reliable data on the issue. Therefore, the goal of the study was to provide more information on abortion tourism, especially in the Polish context.
Poland’s abortion policy is one of the most restricted ones in Europe with abortion on request being not allowed. Yet, thousands of Polish women travel each year abroad for abortion. Providing reliable statistics is challenging, however, it is estimated that no less than every fourth Polish woman has an empirical experience of terminating a pregnancy, meaning that up to 5,8 million Polish women have experienced at least one abortion. Up to 200 000 Polish women are estimated to experience abortion each year. Among these, 10-15% are estimated to seek abortion abroad, meaning that up to 30 000 Polish women travel each year abroad to terminate a pregnancy.
The thesis has produced some new information. For instance, the results of the study indicate that an average Polish woman, who has sought abortion abroad, was in her early 30’s, highly educated and professionally active. Thus, the respondents usually had a relatively high socioeconomic status. A disturbing question arises, what methods are left for those less educated and unemployed, who cannot afford travelling abroad?
In addition, the results indicate that Polish women usually sought for abortion in other member states of the European Union, with Germany being overwhelmingly the most popular destination. For clear majority, travelling abroad for abortion was a one-time event. Moreover, Polish abortion tourists sought for rather high-quality services, as they mostly appreciate free appointments available soon and kind and helpful personnel.
The results indicate that safety concern was the most significant factor forcing Polish women to seek abortion abroad. Safety concern related to backstreet abortion has been recognized by numerous authors. For instance, it is estimated that unsafe abortion accounts for 14,5% maternal deaths worldwide. Therefore, safety concern expressed by the respondents was not only justified, but it also underlined the importance of the access to safe abortion.
The information can be used for many purposes. For instance, service providers offering abortion services to women, who have no access to abortion on request in their home countries, can find a lot of useful information on selection criteria important for potential service users.
The study produced information on a topic that has not been studied much so far. Yet, a lot of information is still to be found. For example, the results indicate that travelling abroad for abortion was a one-time event for clear majority. Thus, does abortion tourism influence sexual behavior in terms of, for example, use of contraceptives in women, who have previously sought for abortion abroad? This could be found out by conducting a follow-up study on women, who have travelled abroad for abortion. Thus, this research study is a good starting point for studying abortion tourism, however there are many questions that still need to be answered.
Ewa Hirvonen, Author of the thesis
Global development and management in health care