Women’s and Healthcare Workers’ Beliefs and Experiences Surrounding Abortion: The Case of Haiti.

Women in developing countries usually encounter serious inequities in terms of women’s health. To date, there is limited understanding of abortion from the perspective of Haitian women. As a limited-resource country, Haiti faces complex social issues and healthcare challenges. With abortion being illegal, many adult and teenage women seek clandestine abortions. The aim of this study was to explore and gain a greater understanding of women’s and healthcare workers’ beliefs and experiences about abortion in Haiti.Descriptive qualitative design was used to elicit information for the study. Eight focus groups were conducted with Haitian women and healthcare workers in five communities in the south of Haiti: Les Cayes, Aquin, St. Louis du Sud, Cavaillon, Maniche, and Ile a Vache. Participants were purposively selected and consented to participate and to be tape recorded. Content analysis followed using the verbatim transcripts, with triangulation of four researchers; saturation was reached with this number of focus groups.The transcripts revealed six main themes regarding beliefs and experiences about abortion in Haiti: cultural aspects, consumers, perils of care, and legal concerns. Both women and healthcare workers discussed the repercussions of illegal abortion and the role of the government and hospitals. Participants identified similar perils and complications of unsafe abortions, such as postpartum hemorrhage and infection.Results showed an urgent need to create a public health response that addresses different dimensions of abortion by engaging women and healthcare providers in rapid and concrete actions that promote access and safe care of women. It is imperative to conduct more research related to abortion in order to examine other associated factors to better understand the links between abortion and sexual health disparities among Haitian women. These results highlight the need for a rapid response to the need of this vulnerable group, who are experiencing high rates of mortality. This can also serve as a directive to approach this issue in other developing countries in the Caribbean region, particularly from its clinical relevance.Unsafe abortions are prevalent in developing countries; yet limited research exists on the topic. It is paramount to gain an understanding of the women’s and healthcare workers’ beliefs and experiences surrounding abortion, in order to develop interventions that prevent abortion complications in Haitian women.