“I just have to hope that this abortion should go well”: Perceptions, fears, and experiences of abortion clients in Nigeria

February 2022


This qualitative study aimed to examine how abortion clients in Nigeria perceive abortion and explore the role their beliefs and fears play in their care-seeking experiences and interactions with providers. Abortion is severely legally restricted in Nigeria but remains common. We conducted in-depth interviews with 25 people who obtained abortion services through three distinct models of care. We coded interview transcripts and conducted thematic analysis. Clients perceived negative attitudes toward abortion in their communities, though clients’ own beliefs were more nuanced. Clients recounted a range of fears, and nearly all mentioned worrying that they might die as a result of their abortion. Despite their concerns, clients relied on social networks and word-of-mouth recommendations to identify providers they perceived as trustworthy and safe. Kind and non-judgmental treatment, clear instructions, open communication, and reassurance of privacy and confidentiality by providers alleviated client fears and helped clients feel supported throughout their abortion process. Within restrictive contexts, the mobilization of information networks, provision of high-quality care through innovative models, and personalization of care to individual needs can assuage fears and contribute to reducing stigma and increasing access to safe abortion services.