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Article

Women traveling far for an abortion are more likely to go to emergency departments for follow-up care

“Distance Traveled for an Abortion and Source of Care After Abortion,” published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the first paper to examine the relationship between distance traveled for abortion and where women seek any potential follow-up care. By analyzing data from 39,747 abortions covered by Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, researchers found that women who traveled 100 miles or more for an abortion were over twice as likely as women traveling 25 miles or fewer to seek subsequent care at an emergency department. While California is one of only 17 states that allows Medicaid coverage for abortion, the data are likely indicative of what is happening in states across the country where women are forced to travel long distances to get an abortion.

Women seek subsequent care after abortion for a variety of reasons, including routine follow-up to confirm the abortion is complete and for questions about symptoms. In places where abortion access is limited, particularly rural areas, women are more likely to visit a local emergency department for this care, which costs far more to the Medicaid system than the same care provided at an abortion clinic.

The study is a follow-up to the authors’ previous research demonstrating that women covered by Medi-Cal living in rural areas travel much farther for abortions than those living in urban areas.

Read more at the Obstetrics and Gynecology website.

Check out the accompanying infographic and issue brief.

Request a pdf.

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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