UC Berkeley researchers find distance from abortion centers limits access

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A new study published by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health has found that physical distances from abortion centers can pose insurmountable barriers for those seeking abortions in the United States.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open on May 13, showed a correlation between living 50 miles or more from an abortion center and still being pregnant four weeks later. According to the study, those who lived 50 miles or more were still seeking abortion care four weeks after their initial search or planning to continue the pregnancy..

Ouchma Upadhyay, study author and associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at UCSF, said in an email that the study results should demonstrate to lawmakers the potential impact of overturning Roe v. Wade and the abortion ban.

“If Roe is overturned, state abortion bans will create huge barriers to abortion, Upadhyay said in the email. “This will have dire consequences for individuals and their families.”

According to Upadhyay, the team found study participants using Google ads. People seeking abortions saw advertisements inviting them to volunteer to participate in the study.

This strategy, according to Upadhyay, allowed the team to reach people early in the abortion-seeking process, which differed from previous studies that interviewed people in clinics able to overcome “distance barriers. .

Elizabeth Pleasants, another study author and doctoral candidate in the campus school of public health program, said in an email that in a cohort of pregnant women from all 50 states and Washington DC who were considering abortion, only 48% achieved the desired abortion four weeks later.

According to Pleasants, the study was conducted between 2017 and 2018 and participants completed online surveys at baseline and four weeks later. The data was analyzed in 2021, when the team explored the association between distance from an abortion facility and abortion and pregnancy outcome four weeks later.

“The harmful effects of distance traveled to reach an abortion center can be mitigated by supporting the use of innovative approaches to abortion care, such as the provision of telehealth and effective medical abortion support self-directed,” Pleasants said in the email.

According to Upadhyay, abortion care, like other pregnancy care, is often out of reach for many people living in rural parts of the country.

Upadhyay added that people should be able to access healthcare regardless of where they live.

“Abortion care is health care,” Upadhyay said in the email. “It is imperative to ensure that all pregnant women can access pregnancy-related health care safely, regardless of the state in which they live.

Contact Anna Armstrong at [email protected]and follow her on Twitter at @annavarmstrongg.

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