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Study finds no evidence that having an abortion leads to negative health outcomes

Previous studies show that, in the short term, childbirth is associated with more health risks than abortion. But less is known about the long term health of women who have abortions compared to those who give birth. In the Turnaway Study, we compared the long term physical health of women who received a wanted abortion to those who were denied a wanted abortion and gave birth. Our data provide evidence that having an abortion is not detrimental to a person’s health, but being denied a wanted abortion is. 

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Using Telemedicine for Mandatory Pre-Abortion Information Sessions Reduces Barriers to Abortion Care

In states with laws requiring patients to attend an initial information visit before they obtain an abortion, allowing patients to participate in information sessions via telemedicine can reduce financial and logistical burdens. In our study, we interviewed 18 women in Utah who used telemedicine to attend information visits before receiving an abortion.

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Policies targeting alcohol use in pregnancy harm instead of help

Most states have policies targeting alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. Previous research finds that, at best, these policies do not affect use during pregnancy, prenatal care use, or birth outcomes. At worst, some policies lead to increases in low birthweight and preterm birth and to decreases in prenatal care. This study adds estimates the number of babies born low birthweight or preterm due to these policies and their associated costs. Policymakers should consider the adverse public health impacts of these laws before expanding them to new states or new substances.

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Policies to decrease alcohol use during pregnancy may not work as intended

Many states have laws with the stated goal of decreasing alcohol use during pregnancy, yet it is not known how effective these laws are. This study examined the relationship between these policies and alcohol use among pregnant women. We found that most alcohol and pregnancy policies are not associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. These findings do not demonstrate that there is a specific set of policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy that policy makers should implement. New policy approaches may be needed to address alcohol use during pregnancy.

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There is no evidence to support abortion pill “reversal”

Between 2015 and 2019, legislators in at least 14 states have introduced bills that would require clinicians to inform patients during pre-abortion counseling that the abortion pill can be “reversed” if a woman were to change her mind after taking it. This is despite the fact that medication abortion is safe and that the vast majority of women who choose abortion do not regret their decision. So-called abortion “reversal” bills have been passed into law and implemented in four states as of 2019: Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah. 

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CPCs and the effectiveness of interpersonal efforts to stigmatize abortion

Drawing on in-depth interviews with women who visited crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) for pregnancy-related services, itself a relatively uncommon experience, ANSIRH's Katrina Kimport identifies two primary ways in which CPC counselors attempted to stigmatize abortion. First, they provided scientifically inaccurate information that exaggerated the risks of abortion. Second, they affirmed parenting in their counseling, presenting it as the preferred pregnancy outcome, often with reference to religious beliefs about childbearing.

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More U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists are providing abortion now than in 2009

ANSIRH, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Ibis Reproductive Health, and the California Pacific Medical Center conducted a survey that found the percentage of U.S. Ob/GYNs who provide abortion rose from 14% in 2009 to 24% at the time of the survey (2016-2017). We also asked participants who provided abortion which methods they offered. We found that FDA regulations create a significant barrier to expanding medication abortion provision.

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Pharmacy workers in Nepal could expand abortion provision

In 2015, we conducted in-depth interviews with 19 pharmacy-based workers, including pharmacy owners and auxiliary nurse-midwives, in two districts of Nepal—Chitwan and Jhapa. We found that Nepali pharmacy owners and staff felt that they can deliver safe and effective services to their clients, and that they offer an important alternative in regions where women have limited access to clinic-based abortion care. They felt that formal integration of pharmacy-based providers into legal networks of abortion provision could improve the quality of care they provided by strengthening training and referrals.

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CDC overestimates alcohol-exposed pregnancies

The CDC estimated that the number of women at-risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEPs) at 3.3 million per month. This study estimates the prevalence of AEPs, accounting for chances of becoming pregnant and three pregnancy outcomes: birth, miscarriage, and abortion. We found that the estimated expected actual number of AEPs is about 2.5 million lower than the CDC estimate. Alcohol use during pregnancy is an important public health problem, and it is imperative that estimates are correctly interpreted. Overestimating the scope of the problem can lead to enactment of stigmatizing policies, which may result in negative birth outcomes and in less health care utilization.

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The Desire to Avoid Pregnancy (DAP) scale

Using rigorous psychometric methods, we developed and evaluated the Desire to Avoid Pregnancy (DAP) scale, a new scaled measure of a person’s preferences about a future pregnancy and childbearing.

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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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