Wellcome Trust and LSE Health

Wellcome Trust funding awarded to LSE researchers for seed project on Zika and medical abortion

The impact of Zika on women's access to medical abortion

The project will analyse the intersection of Zika, regulation and medical abortion through a comparative case study of Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador

Primary Investigator: Clare Wenham
Researchers: Ernestina Coast, Tiziana Leone, Sonia Correa
Start Date: 1/7/18
End Date: 30/6/19
Region(s): South America, Central America
Keywords: Zika, Abortion, Regulation, Disease Control, Medical Abortion 

An inter-disciplinary team from LSE have received funding from Wellcome Trust for a seed project to understand the impact of the Zika outbreak on how women access medical abortion, and how national regulation has impacted on women’s choices and abortion service provider’s activity during this health emergency.

 This LSE Health research will be undertaken by Clare Wenham (Department of Health Policy), Ernestina Coast (Department of International Development), Tiziana Leone (Department of International Development) and Sonia Correa (LSE Gender Institute), and will analyse medical abortion (the use of mifepristone and misoprostol to terminate pregnancy) during the Zika outbreak, to consider the impact different regulatory environments had on women's reproductive health at a time of uncertainty.

The project will analyse the intersection of Zika, regulation and medical abortion through a comparative case study of Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador. Each of these states had Zika infected women (albeit with differing incidence) yet represent diverse regulatory environments for medical abortion, ranging from legalisation in Colombia to criminalisation in El Salvador to medical abortion drugs being on the list of prohibited smuggled drugs in Brazil.

In spite of regulation, however, it is believed that women have still been accessing medical abortion during the Zika epidemic, assumed through civil society groups, pharmacies and the black market. The research will assess women’s choices and provider activity in the case study locations, and in doing so, produce a conceptual framework for understanding the regulation of abortion during health emergencies.

The project will start in Summer 2018, and will begin with a research workshop with leading abortion and Zika academics and activists to determine pathways to understanding the impact of the outbreak on medical abortion, and suitable study sites.

For more information, please contact Clare Wenham c.wenham@lse.ac.uk