Co-written by MSI Reproductive Choices’ Jen Gassner and Women First Digital’s Sneha Nair, we delve into how digital partnerships are improving access to abortion care.
Access to safe abortion care can be life-changing, and it can be life-saving.
The World Health Organisation recognises abortion as crucial healthcare, yet millions around the world continue to face barriers to accessing it. These include financial constraints, unnecessary legal restrictions, and a lack of information on where and how to seek care. This year, an estimated 35 million women will make the agonising decision to resort to an unsafe abortion, because they don’t have access to safe services.
Advancements in digital and technology provide a unique opportunity to change this – opening new avenues for improved access and greater awareness of reproductive health and rights.
How digital can improve access to abortion care
At MSI Reproductive Choices, we use the power of digital to support reproductive health and rights globally, through social media, accessible content on our websites, and our global network of 33 contact centres that offer free information and service referrals over the phone and via social media, SMS, and WhatsApp. In 2022, we supported over 9.3 million people with information on their reproductive options via these channels.
Our efforts are part of a wider network of digital support. In 2022, safe2choose, an eHealth platform provided by our partners at Women First Digital, gave access to safe abortion information and services, receiving 7.2 million visits globally (with most visits coming from people aged 18-25). 19,000 of these users were referred on to safe abortion providers worldwide.
There is a clear need for information that supports people with their reproductive choices – and the data from MSI and safe2choose show that the internet facilitates that – so we’re partnering to ensure those accessing safe2choose can be referred on to quality safe abortion and post-abortion care services with MSI, wherever possible.
Connecting the dots: building a continuum of care together
In 2021, MSI and safe2choose joined forces to bridge the gap between online and offline referrals for people seeking abortion care. The partnership used safe2choose’s live abortion counselling feature, which offers personalised support with accurate information about abortion services available, answering client questions, and providing emotional support. safe2choose then supports the individual with the details of their closest clinic or hotline number, considering their proximity, accessibility, and the availability of services.
When these conversations take place in a country where MSI can provide safe abortion or post-abortion care, clients are then passed on to MSI. We offer live support to clients via our contact centre, answering any lingering questions and letting them know where their nearest clinic would be – ensuring a smooth transition from the digital platform to face-to-face care.
Over 7,000 people have already been referred to MSI for advice and support across multiple countries, showing the power of the partnership in connecting women with the care they need. The partnership has given people access to accurate information on their reproductive health and rights, challenged misinformation and stigma surrounding abortion, and empowered individuals to make informed decisions.
Next steps – powering up the integration
Our collaboration with safe2choose has shown the power of combining online and offline abortion care services, to improve the client journey and well-being of people seeking abortion care.
Now, with a rise in telehealth and telemedicine, there’s space to grow our impact. Integrated partnerships between abortion care facilities and digital health platforms will be central to this progress – so we can create an accessible, streamlined abortion pathway for clients.
And if you want to find out how you can partner with us, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org