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News from ANSIRH

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The Judicial Bypass Process Delays Abortion for Adolescents

In 37 states, young people ages 17 and under who need an abortion must involve one or both parents in their decision. Minors in these states who cannot involve a parent have an alternative – to seek judicial bypass from a judge. This study reviewed the judicial bypass process in Illinois and found that even in a state with a well-organized network of attorneys supporting young people through the process, judicial bypass delays youth by one week and requires traveling long distances.

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While abortion on TV is becoming more diverse, it still doesn’t reflect reality

In the last five years, we found more diverse characters obtaining abortions on American television, better reflecting real U.S. abortion patients. Compared to samples from the early 2000s, depictions that aired between 2015 to 2019 included a higher proportion of characters of color, of lower socio-economic status, and in their twenties, patterns which more accurately represent real patients. However, in aggregate, characters are still younger, whiter, and of higher socioeconomic status than their real counterparts, and legal barriers to abortion access are still under-portrayed.

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Ob-Gyn teaching hospitals often restrict abortion beyond state law

Although the majority of abortions are performed in outpatient clinics, hospital-based abortions are often the only option for patients, especially those with complex medical needs. We found that 57% of Ob-Gyn teaching hospitals — mostly in the Midwest and South — limit abortion availability beyond what state law allows. These restrictions on care have particular significance during the COVID-19 crisis, when hospitals have moved to restrict “elective” procedures, making abortion care even harder to access. 

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Having an abortion in an ambulatory surgical center costs hundreds more than office-based settings

Several states have laws that require abortion facilities to meet the standards of Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC). We reviewed data on women who had abortions in ASCs and office-based settings. We found that abortions in ASCs are more expensive and do nothing to improve patient safety.

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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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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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