Although abortion is legal in Austria, women are frequently confronted by religiously motivated demonstrators when accessing an abortion. The current study assessed women’s experiences in this situation.
Between 2006 and 2010, data were collected from women seeking an abortion who demonstrators had approached in front of an abortion clinic. A qualitative content method, descriptive statistics, and formal regression analysis were used to examine the data.
Participants comprised 98 women aged 12–47 years. Overall, 91% said the demonstrators did not influence their decision, 17% reported feeling threatened, and 93% supported a legal ban on what they perceived as harassment.
The demonstrators’ behavior did not influence or change the women’s abortion decision. The women reported the activists’ behavior as harassment. Further, the vast majority would support enhanced legal protection for women entering an abortion clinic to minimize psychological and physical stress. Future research should explore how such bans could help women improve their experience at the time of the abortion. Further studies are required to assess women’s experiences accessing the abortion clinic services confronted by religiously motivated demonstrators.