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ANSIRH News

When women have control over the timing of having children, the children benefit

The Turnaway Study examined the impact of being denied vs receiving a wanted abortion on families, especially children. We found that denying women abortions negatively affects children—including existing children, children born as a result of abortion denial, and children born from subsequent pregnancies. Results from the study can be found in three new and recent publications.

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Claims of success in so-called “abortion reversal” therapy lack evidence

In a Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Daniel Grossman of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Dr. Kari White of the University of Alabama at Birmingham conclude that patients who receive progesterone, the key treatment in “abortion reversal” therapy, after taking mifepristone are no more likely to continue their pregnancies than women who do nothing at all. Still, four U.S. states require abortion providers to give patients information about “abortion reversal.”

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Women are virtually absent from newspaper coverage of abortion

This ethnographic content analysis, published this month in Women’s Health Issues, examined a sample of 783 news and opinion pieces on abortion published in the Associated Press, New York Times, and Washington Post in 2013 and 2016. We found that abortion is covered as a political issue much more than as a health issue. 

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Considering abortion is common among women seeking prenatal care

We sought to understand whether women seeking prenatal care considered abortion for their current pregnancy and if abortion restrictions played a role in whether women had an abortion. About one third of participants reporting considering abortion, with the most common reason for not having an abortion relating to a woman’s own decision-making. However, abortion restrictions do prevent some women from obtaining wanted abortions. States with multiple abortion restrictions place the abortion out of reach for some women despite abortion being legal, particularly for women struggling to make ends meet.

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Some prenatal care patients feel uncertain about their pregnancy

Most women are sure of their decision to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion before meeting with a clinician. This study found that a subset of women entering prenatal care, about 1 in 10, want to discuss their pregnancy options with their provider. Women living in states with restrictive abortion policies and women facing socioeconomic hardships, including food insecurity, were especially interested in talking about their options. Clinicians should be prepared to offer unbiased, non-directive counseling and referrals to patients in need.

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Women with higher levels of reproductive autonomy appear to experience lower levels of abortion stigma

Our study finds that women who have higher levels of reproductive autonomy may experience lower levels of abortion stigma following an abortion. Stigma following the event of an abortion can affect a woman’s emotional well-being.  Women who have an abortion can face judgment from others, shame or guilt. However, an increased sense of reproductive autonomy, or the power a woman has over her reproductive decisions, may reduce stigma felt after an abortion. Thus, stigma-reduction interventions aimed at increasing reproductive autonomy may be helpful for women who have an abortion.

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New methods to include LGBTQ people in pregnancy risk research

There is little research about the needs and experiences of LGBTQ people in relation to abortion, contraception, and pregnancy.  To address this gap, we created a survey with existing and new measures to assess sexual behavior and reproductive anatomy. We assessed the appropriateness of these questions through 39 cognitive interviews with people assigned female at birth who identified as LGBTQ. Participants responded positively to the questions, and gave constructive feedback about pregnancy intention measures. This study provides crucial guidance on how to evaluate the inclusion of LGBTQ people in abortion and contraception research.

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Mandatory ultrasound viewing laws limit decisional autonomy

Research on mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound viewing laws has focused on whether they dissuade women from abortion, finding only a very small effect. In this study, we examined whether these laws affect women’s decisional autonomy by compelling viewing, finding evidence that they change women’s viewing decision making, substantially increasing rates of viewing.  Moreover, this effect differs by race, with larger impacts on the viewing behavior of black women compared with white women.  Findings call for renewed attention at a macro level to the coercive power of laws regulating abortion.

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Research roadmap seeks to expand access to medication abortion in safe, effective and user-friendly ways

Our research roadmap seeks to understand self-manage abortion and to generate critical evidence to remove unnecessary restrictions and provide medication abortion in user-friendly and accessible ways, with a focus on two complementary goals.

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Laws targeting drug use in pregnancy have become more punitive

States are increasingly regulating drug use in pregnant women, yet little is known about these laws. We analyzed over 40 years of state-level policy in this arena and found that the number of states with one or more policies targeting drug use during pregnancy has increased substantially, and that these policies have become more punitive. We compared policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and drug use during pregnancy, and found that, with the exception of Mandatory Warning Signs, drug-related policies and alcohol-related policies almost entirely overlap.

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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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