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Obtaining an abortion in the United States: Reasons and process

Lawrence B. Finer, PhD, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005, 212-248-1111, lfiner@nsmfl.com

There is little recent national information available about the reasons why women in the United States choose abortion, factors affecting their decision-making, and the process of obtaining an abortion. From November 2003 to February 2004, The Alan Guttmacher Institute surveyed 1,200 women having abortions at 11 large facilities across the country. The survey asked each woman to report the reasons she elected to have an abortion, using both open-ended and closed-ended questions. In addition, questions were asked about the timing of key events, such as the date of the woman’s last menstrual period, the date she decided to have an abortion, and the date of the procedure. Women were also asked if they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier than they did, and if so, what kept them from doing so. In a separate effort, qualitative information was gathered from approximately 40 women at four clinics to provide a more in-depth understanding of both the reasons for and the process of obtaining an abortion. We will address the following questions: What are the most common reasons women give for having abortions? What are the relative lengths of the stages of the process of obtaining an abortion? Does a woman’s rationale for choosing an abortion affect the logistics of obtaining one? Are there any associations between women’s demographic characteristics or pregnancy specifics (gestation, procedure used, etc.) and the motivations for or logistical aspects of obtaining an abortion? What are the primary reasons for delays in accessing services?

Learning Objectives: By the end of this session, participants should be able to

Keywords: Abortion, Reproductive Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The Struggle to Maintain or Expand Access to Safe Abortion Services in the U.S

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA