Although at-home pregnancy tests are commonly used, this study shows that many pregnant people still experience delays when confirming a suspected pregnancy. As a result, one in three people confirm their pregnancies past six weeks, and one in five past 7 weeks. Later confirmation of pregnancy is even higher among young people, people of color, and those living with food insecurity, suggesting that gestational bans on abortion in the first trimester will disproportionally hurt these populations.
Researchers recruited participants ages 15 through 45 from eight reproductive and primary health care facilities, including one abortion facility, in Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas in 2016 and 2017. Clinic front desk staff gave potentially eligible patients a flyer describing the study. After providing verbal informed consent, respondents completed a 30-minute anonymous survey while in the clinic waiting room and received a $20 gift card.
State legislatures have ramped up efforts to pass bills targeting abortion access in the first trimester, including the six-week ban in Texas that recently made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But this study shows that many individuals—and the majority of young people—do not find out they’re pregnant until after that time.
As the researchers write:
“Gestational bans in the first trimester will disproportionately prevent young people, people of color, and those living with food insecurity from being able to access abortion.”
The article, Home pregnancy test use and timing of pregnancy confirmation among people seeking healthcare, is available in Contraception.