This chapter focuses on abortion as a global issue and the growing debates and research examining abortion policies and cross-border abortion travel. This chapter offers guidance on this topic from an anthropological perspective, including a review of the state of knowledge, and insights from research on legal and social barriers to abortion access, and abortion travel between and within countries. We show how the fragmented abortion policy landscape impacts women’s and pregnant people’s choices and experiences with legal/illegal abortion and abortion travel. An overview of restrictive abortion laws (e.g., Poland, Malta) and ostensibly liberal laws (e.g., France, Italy) demonstrates how travel for healthcare to distant locations is perpetuated.
This chapter engages with the complexity of this phenomenon, showing that travel also is driven because of specific cultural, historical, and political factors such as stigma, and refusals of services by providers citing objections based on conscience. Theoretically, we engage with reproductive governance which elucidates the roles that a multitude of actors play in influencing women’s access to healthcare. We highlight the stratification of access to care evident in the global analysis of abortion governance. We also illuminate the mobilities of discourses and services that call anthropological and feminist observers’ attention.