198596 State differences in abortion access: A new tool to understand access to care and capacity for change

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:50 PM

Angel M. Foster, DPhil, MD, AM , Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA
Melanie Zurek, EdM , Abortion Access Project, Cambridge, MA
Background: The well-known statistic that 87% of counties lack an abortion provider certainly illustrates the lack of access to a service that one in three women will need during her lifetime, however there are other methods to understand abortion access. This paper presents the results of a study that conceptualized access to abortion including both access to care and resources to improve services.

Study Design: The study compiled data from existing sources such as the US Census, the Natality Dataset, BRFSS, the Guttmacher Institute, and others. We gathered data in four general areas: demographics, health, laws and policies, and advocacy organizations' activities. We calculated a summated scale based on state rankings of these indicators to create an “access score” and an “opportunity score” for all 50 states.

Results: There are considerable disparities in abortion access and current capacity to improve that access between states. One measure of access, such as the percent of counties with an abortion provider, does not represent a complete understanding of the context in which abortion service delivery occurs. By conceptualizing both access to care and resources to improve services, our study provides a new way to think about abortion access.

Implications: Limited access to abortion has negative consequences on women's health and autonomy. Those working to improve access to abortion require better data to prioritize funding and plan programs. Our study contributes to this effort by providing a new method to understand access to care.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why existing research on access to abortion does not capture the complexity of factors that impact women’s ability to obtain abortion care; 2. Compare state disparities in abortion access using a multi-dimensional analysis that takes into consideration access to care as well as resources to improve services; and 3. Differentiate states with low access and fewer resources, where women face the greatest obstacles when they need abortion care from those with better access and greater resources.

Keywords: Abortion, Methodology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: For five years I have been the Executive Director of the Abortion Access Project during which time I have been responsible for assessing and applying qualitative and quantitative research to programming designed to achieve improvements in access to abortion services, and overseeing the work of others on similar tasks. I have presented widely at professioanl conferences and meetings on this and related topics, and have contributed to several articles on access to abortion care.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.