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Abortion care delays are associated with higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression

New research finds that abortion seekers experience delay-causing obstacles—due to costs, limited access to abortion care, and increased travel time—that may have a negative impact on their psychological well-being.

Findings: Abortion Care Delays and Mental Health Issues

Three in five participants (58%) experienced delay-causing obstacles when accessing abortion care.
The most prevalent obstacles were cost-related (45%), followed by access-related (43%), and travel time-related (35%) delays.
Experiencing any type of delay-causing obstacle to abortion care was significantly associated with more symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and higher risk of anxiety and depressive disorders.

Implications: How Do Abortion Care Obstacles Impact Mental Health?

Although this study’s data was collected before the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in 2022, delays are likely to be even more pronounced, post-Dobbs. This study is the first to provide evidence about the quantitative relationships between delay-causing obstacles to abortion care and people’s mental health. Findings suggest policies that restrict abortion access and lead to delays, such as abortion bans, mandated waiting period laws and gestational limits, may be negatively associated with the psychological well-being of people trying to obtain abortion care.

The researchers write:

“As pregnant individuals struggle with accessing the healthcare they need and are forced to navigate complex legal risks and longer distances to reach these time-sensitive services, the accompanying psychological symptoms may intensify, potentially leading to further harm.”

The article, Experiences of delay-causing obstacles and mental health at the time of abortion seeking, is available in Contraception: X.