Maggie Hobstetter, J.D., M.P.H., served as a Bixby Packard Fellow from 2012-2016, in a dual capacity as Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist with the Bixby Center and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Population and Reproductive Health Program. Maggie’s research draws on her experience on the Thailand-Burma border, where she conducted research and managed reproductive health projects.
Summary: Women from Burma living in Thailand are generally unable to access safe abortion care—even for cases that clearly fall within the legal exceptions—because of a lack of knowledge of the Thai medical and legal systems, restrictions on travel and movement, the costs associated with the procedure, a dearth of culturally and linguistically compatible providers, and stigma. As a consequence, women from Burma on both sides of the border suffer significant reproductive health morbidities as a result of unsafe abortion. This context motivated the pilot project described in this report. We detail the three-year, collaborative effort by the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand, and a multidisciplinary team of North American reproductive health specialists to determine the feasibility of establishing a referral system for abortion care. We then present the outcomes of more than two dozen cases in which women from Burma who met the criteria for a safe, legal abortion were referred to a qualified and legal Thai providers.
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