Unmarried, young women constitute a significant proportion of women who undergo unsafe abortion in Ethiopia. Based on material from an ethnographic study, the experiences of young, unmarried women who had been admitted to the hospital in the aftermath of an unsafe, clandestine abortion are explored in this article. The routes the young women followed in their search of abortion services and the concerns and realities they had to negotiate and navigate are at the fore. Despite their awareness of the dangers involved in clandestine and illegal abortion, the young women felt they had no choice but to use medically unsafe abortion services. Two reasons for this are highlighted: such services were affordable and, significantly, they were considered socially safe in that the abortion remained unknown to others and the stigma of abortion and its consequences could hence be avoided. In situations in which choices had to be made, social safety trumped medical safety. This indicates a need for abortion services that address both the medical and social safety concerns of young women in need of such services.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com