Establishing a Referral System for Safe and Legal Abortion Care: A Pilot Project on the Thailand-Burma Border


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.

Meredith Walsh
Angel M. Foster
Grady Arnott
Margaret Hobstetter
Htin Zaw
Cynthia Maung
Cari Sietstra
Publication date: 
November 8, 2016
Publication type: