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ANSIRH News

Chilean medical and midwifery students support the recent decriminalization of abortion

In 2017, the government of Chile approved a bill decriminalizing abortion in three specific circumstances: when the pregnant person’s life is at risk, when the fetus is not compatible with life outside the uterus and when the pregnancy is a result of rape. We surveyed Chilean medical and midwifery students at both religious and secular universities and found that the majority supported abortion in the three cases in which it was recently decriminalized. This presents an opportunity to encourage medical and midwifery schools, regardless of their religious affiliation, to offer the necessary training to provide abortion-related care.

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Typical measures of pregnancy intention may underestimate the real number of unintended pregnancies in the U.S.

This study followed 143 people for 3 years, during which time they experienced 174 pregnancies. It measured women’s pregnancy intention before they became pregnant, and again, after they became pregnant. One half of the women reported different levels of pregnancy intention when asked before and after, with many more women reporting increased levels of pregnancy intention. People who gave birth reported the largest shifts in intention, compared to those who received an abortion. This implies that measures of pregnancy intention focused on asking women only when they are pregnant may significantly underestimate the real frequency of unintended pregnancy.

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Doctors and health care facilities need to prepare as self-managed abortion increases under restrictive laws

Many states across the U.S. have laws that restrict access to abortion, and pregnant people facing insurmountable barriers to abortion access may choose to self-manage abortion using safe and effective methods, like mifepristone and misoprostol pills. Others may use ineffective methods, such as herbs, and some may use unsafe methods, such as getting hit in the abdomen or inserting objects into the uterus. In our review, we discuss ways clinicians and facilities can prepare for the clinical and legal challenges ahead.

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Women have a variety of reasons for visiting anti-abortion pregnancy centers

There are more than 2,500 pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers, in the United States. Their primary mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion. We asked women why they visited pregnancy resource centers and what their experiences had been like there. Most of the women we interviewed were low-income and had not been considering abortion when they visited the centers. We found that they had gone to the centers not because they were seeking abortion care but, instead, to obtain no-cost pregnancy-related services and material goods, as well as for social support. Although the women were largely satisfied with their experiences, the resources they received were limited and they often had to meet the centers’ requirements—such as attending counseling classes with a religious component—in order to access limited goods and services.

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Women choose a hospital based on reputation and quality of care

Millions of women in the U.S. seek Ob/GYN or reproductive health care in hospitals each year. In this study with the University of Chicago, we surveyed reproductive-age women to try to determine what factors they considered when choosing which hospital to receive care.

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Storytellers experience both harassment and empowerment after sharing abortion stories publicly

Abortion is common in the U.S., but remains highly stigmatized. Through an anonymous online survey, people who have shared their own personal abortion stories publicly reported their experiences as a result of sharing their stories. Respondents reported that they find sharing their abortion story to be an empowering, rewarding experience. Yet they also experience harassment and threats at high rates.

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Women have varied motivations for adopting emergency contraception pills vs the copper IUD as emergency contraception

We explored why young women choose a particular method of emergency contraception (EC), whether EC pills or the copper IUD. We found that women had varied reasons for preferring each type of EC method, and that some young people were unable to access the IUD as EC and felt stigma around repeated use of EC pills. Our findings suggest the need to support women’s decisions to use either EC method, to destigmatize repeat use of EC pills, and to improve access of the IUD as EC.

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Perceived abortion stigma and psychological well-being over five years after receiving or being denied an abortion

Although abortion in the U.S. is very common, it remains highly stigmatized. As part of the Turnaway Study, we assessed perceptions of abortion stigma among people who obtained an abortion near a facility’s gestational limit and compared them to people who were denied abortion because they were past the facility’s gestational limit. We followed both groups over five years. We found that most people seeking abortion perceived abortion stigma both from people close to them and people in their community, and levels of abortion stigma were higher among those who obtained an abortion than among those denied an abortion. Perceptions of abortion stigma soon after seeking an abortion was associated with psychological distress years later.

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Being denied abortion can lead to financial distress that lasts at least 5 years

In recent years, many states have increased their efforts to pass legislation that restricts access to abortion and little was known about the economic and financial consequences these laws have on women and families. In this study, we used Turnaway Study data and examined participants’ credit history three years before they became pregnant and five years after to determine the impact of being denied a wanted abortion.

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Abortion restrictions can make obtaining an abortion impossible for people with complex life situations

States across the U.S. have enacted restrictive abortion laws, and many of those states have multiple restrictive laws in place. We examined how these laws have impacted women who considered, but did not have, an abortion. We found that, for people dealing with complex life situations, including dealing with economic insecurity, mental health, and substance use, restrictive abortion laws can make obtaining abortion care impossible.

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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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