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ANSIRH News

Editorial: White House policy changes put women’s health at risk

In an editorial featured in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, ANSIRH’s Dan Grossman examines how the Trump administration’s sexual and reproductive health policy changes threaten women in the USA and across the world. One concerning development is the re-imposition of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, which prevents US-funded organizations from providing, informing about, or advocating for abortion care in their countries.

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Public health experts call for an end to overregulation of mifepristone

REMS place medically unnecessary burdens on patients and providers, and keep mifepristone from being prescribed by clinicians or sold in pharmacies alongside hundreds of other prescription medications. Overregulation means that fewer providers offer mifepristone and fewer women have access to this safe and effective option for ending a pregnancy. This burden is especially heavy on poor and rural women.

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Television plotlines inaccurately portray the ease of abortion access

The Abortion Onscreen project identified 89 plotlines from 2005 to 2015, including in popular shows such as Shameless, Orange is the New Black and Friday Night Lights, in which characters considered or had an abortion. Our analysis found that these plotlines often under-represent the various difficulties, including legal barriers, financial constraints and social pressures, which real women face in pursuing abortions.

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Study finds relationship between distance to nearest clinic in TX and decline in abortion rate

Research from ANSIRH and the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) exploring the impact of House Bill 2 (HB 2) – the restrictive Texas abortion law that was struck down by the Supreme Court – found that increases in travel distance to the nearest abortion clinic caused by clinic closures were closely associated with decreases in the official number of abortions.

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Abortion Onscreen in 2016

In 2016, we identified 13 plotlines on American television where a character considers getting an abortion, and 10 plotlines where they actually do obtain one. These numbers follow the patterns we’ve observed over the past three years: a fairly consistent number of pregnancy decision-making plotlines and abortion results, with a slight increase in the rate of choosing abortion over past decades (77% this year, compared to about 50% in our overall sample).

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No evidence of emerging mental health problems after having an abortion

In “Women’s mental health and well-being five years after receiving or being denied an abortion: A prospective, longitudinal cohort study,” published in JAMA Psychiatry, ANSIRH’s Turnaway Study found that having an abortion does not adversely affect women’s mental health either at the time of the abortion or over five years after receiving abortion care. We also found that denying women abortion has negative consequences to their mental health and well-being in the short-term.

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Research informed recent U.S. Supreme Court decision

ANSIRH Director, Daniel Grossman, wrote a Viewpoint piece titled, “The Use of Public Health Evidence in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt,” in JAMA Internal Medicine on how research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project helped establish a judicial precedent for using public health evidence to evaluate abortion laws.

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The Stratified Legitimacy of Abortions

Prior to Roe v. Wade, an individual woman’s access to legal abortion care was affected by her social position, including her race, class, and geographic location. Roe was supposed to eliminate this privilege-associated unequal access. However, today, despite being common and safe, abortion is performed only selectively in hospitals and private practices, with over 90% of abortions in the U.S. performed in outpatient clinics. We find interpersonal interaction and social criteria influence physicians’ decision to selectively provide abortion care.

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Women are certain about their decision to have an abortion

Using a validated scale that is considered the gold standard for measuring certainty about health care decisions, we found that women seeking an abortion are as certain, if not more certain, about their decision than women and men are when making other health care decisions like whether to have surgery or to be treated for cancer. This finding directly challenges the narrative that decision-making on abortion is somehow exceptional and requires additional protection, such as state laws that mandate waiting periods or targeted counseling and whose stated purpose is to prevent women from making an unconsidered decision.

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Sixteen years after FDA approval, mifepristone's potential is still limited by restrictions

Mifepristone was approved in by the US Food and Drug Administration on September 28, 2000. Sixteen years later, the hoped-for improvements in access to abortion due to this drug have not been fully realized. In an opinion piece in US News & World Report, ANSIRH Director Dr. Dan Grossman explores the state laws and federal regulations that are limiting access to medication abortion. From laws banning telemedicine to provide abortion to FDA regulations preventing pharmacy dispensing of mifepristone, a range of policies make it difficult for women to use this safe and effective abortion option.

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Banner photo: © Aura Orozco-Fuentes

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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