“The child is like water, without any form”: Unwanted pregnancy and abortion – an anthropological study on perceptions and attitudes

Since unwanted/unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion contribute significantly to the burden of ill health, maternal suffering and death in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), MSF conducted this qualitative study to learn more about the vulnerabilities of women and girls with health care needs related to unwanted/unintended pregnancy and abortions, to better understand their health-seeking behaviour and to identify barriers that hinder women and girls from accessing health care.

The present study is one of a series of three: Mweso, Lulinu and Mambasa. It inscribes itself into a larger effort undertaken by MSF to reduce mortality and suffering resulting from unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion in projects in DRC. It is a joint effort of all MSF operational centres, under the authority of the MedOps1 and is – in short – referred to as the Task Force.

This study is commissioned by the Task Force.The study was conducted in the province of North-Kivu in an OCA project in Mweso between 9 and31 May 2017. The results of this study are meant to contribute to a better treatment of women who have undergone abortion and present with abortion related complications and needs and the identification of measures aiming to reduce the burden of unsafe abortion related complications and maternal death. These results could then be used to directly inform MSF operations and serve the purpose of awareness-raising and advocacy on one of the most important and entirely preventable causes of maternal mortality.

The general objective of the anthropological study was to understand and document perception of and attitudes towards unwanted pregnancies and termination of pregnancy, including on request, among health care providers, the general population and local leaders in the DRC.

Document Author(s)
This study was conducted by Doris Burtscher on behalf of the IO/Task Force for Safe Abortion Care and the MSF Vienna Evaluation Unit.
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