A web-based portal for women recovering after surgical abortions will provide much needed support and reduce stigma, according to a World Health Organization OB-GYN who trained in B.C.
Dr. Roopan Gill said the idea came together when she was working on a research project with BC Women’s Hospital that focused on how women wanted to be followed up with after an abortion.
“A lot of women told us they needed a tool that provides them with emotional support but also re-informs them about contraception and just basic things about understanding their menstrual cycle,” Gill told Black Press Media by phone from Geneva, where she is currently based with WHO.
It was a gap Gill had noticed herself in post-abortion care.
Often times providers do “the procedure and then they’re off on their way,” said Gill.
“They might get a lot of information at the time but it’s overwhelming.”
The portal comes in two pieces: an automatic email that women receive every other day for a week and weekly for a month.
The tool also provides information for a woman’s partner on how they can best support her.
“We found that women absolutely loved it,” Gill said.
Gill, who does a lot of global health work and is a family planning specialist along with being an OB-GYN, said she was inspired by projects in developing countries that tried to connect patients and doctors virtually.
“Women who are in remote and rural areas of Canada are finding that they have an abortion and then would like post-abortion support.”
But because of the widespread nature of the country, and a lack of abortion services in smaller communities, women often cannot follow up with their abortion provider face to face.
One-third of the women Gill spoke to in designing the portal had “travelled for more than 100 kilometres to come to Vancouver for their abortion.”
Other than sheer physical distance, Gill said, stigma was the other issue that women faced when trying to get post-abortion care and information.
Although abortion is fully legal in Canada, Gill said some women still felt too ashamed to talk about it.
“We’re hoping that this platform can destigmatize abortion,” she said.
“Maybe these kind of digital solutions can get to a point in time when abortion is not seen as this taboo thing but just another medical procedure that women go through, and they don’t have to hide it.”