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ANSIRH research highlights 2018

Welcome to ANSIRH's 2018 research highlights page. We are proud to share our major accomplishments from this past year, including publications, media mentions, op-eds and awards. Please join us while we look back at the contributions ANSIRH has made this year in evidence-based policy, practice, and public discourse to improve reproductive wellbeing.

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Abortion Onscreen in 2018

This year was important for fictional abortion stories on television, as shows shifted towards highlighting the experiences of women of color. We identified 18 plotlines in which a character either has an abortion, discloses a past abortion, or considers getting an abortion.

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Alcohol and pregnancy policies have different effects by race/ethnicity

Nearly all states have enacted policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy, yet little is known about the effect of these policies. This study investigates the discrepancy between policies targeting pregnant women’s alcohol use and their effects on drinking among pregnant women by race and ethnicity. We found that measuring the overall effect of these policies may conceal effects the policies have on different racial subgroups. We found that the health benefits and harms from these policies are not equally distributed across White, Black, and Hispanic women.

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Miscarriage treatment is just as safe in offices as in ASCs

This research compares the safety of miscarriage treatment in different facility types: office-based settings, hospitals, and Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs). Using a large national sample, we found that the safety of miscarriage treatment varied slightly across facility type. Treatment in office-based settings is as safe or safer than treatment in hospitals, and miscarriage treatment is similarly safe between ASCs and office-based settings. As procedures and medications to treat miscarriages are similar to procedures and medications for abortions, these findings challenge the idea that abortions need to be performed in ASCs to protect patient safety.

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Research shows that women are interested in alternative ways of accessing medication abortion

In a nationally representative survey of women, we examined their general support for and personal interest in three models of medication abortion provision: receiving the medication in advance from a doctor for future use, over-the-counter (OTC) access from a pharmacy, and purchasing abortion pills online. We found that nearly half of women support one or more of these alternative models of medication abortion provision.

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Admitting privileges laws do not appear to benefit abortion patients

We examined how, in the rare event that hospital care is necessary, women presenting for abortion were transferred or referred to emergency departments. We also assessed whether the process changed after clinics obtained admitting privileges. We found that an abortion provider having admitting privileges doesn’t appear to change how abortion patients receive hospital care.

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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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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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