University Of Tasmania
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Working with or against the system: Nurses' and midwives' process of providing abortion care in the context of gender-based violence in Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 14:04 authored by Mainey, L, O'mullan, C, Kerry Reid-SearlKerry Reid-Searl

Design: A constructivist grounded theory study.

Methods: This study took place between 2019 and 2021. The lead author conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 Australian nurses and midwives who provided abortion care. Participants were recruited through pro-abortion, nursing and midwifery networks using a snowballing technique. Data collection and analysis proceeded using purposive and theoretical sampling until we reached data saturation.

Findings: Participants revealed they underwent a process of working with or against the system contingent on the degree to which the system (the interconnected networks through which a pregnant person, victimized by trauma, travels) was woman centred. When participants encountered barriers to person-centred abortion care, they bent or broke the law, local policy and cultural norms to facilitate timely holistic care. Though many participants felt professionally compromised, their resolve to continue working against the system continued.

Conclusion: Conservative abortion law, policies and clinical mores did not prevent participants from providing abortion care. The professional obligation to provide person-centred care was a higher priority than following the official or unofficial rules of the organizations.

Impact: This study addresses the clinical care of people accessing abortions in the context of GBV. Nurses and midwives may act out against the law, organizational policies and norms if prevented from providing person-centred care. This research is relevant for any location that restricts abortion through stigma, pro-life influences or politics.


Publication title

Journal of Advanced Nursing






School of Nursing


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

Rights statement

Copyright 2022 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives


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