Online Program

Five-Year Trends in Medication Abortion: A View from Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Julia Kohn, PhD MPA, Research and CQI Department, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York, NY
Zoe Unger, MPH, Research Department, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York, NY
Jocelyn Benson, MPH, Business Intelligence, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York, NY
Objectives: National estimates demonstrate that while abortions are declining in the U.S., the proportion of medication abortions is increasing. The Guttmacher Institute’s abortion provider census found that 23% of non-hospital abortions in 2011 were medication abortions; when looking only at abortions performed within nine weeks’ gestation, the proportion is higher. Our objective was to analyze five-year trends in medication abortions performed at Planned Parenthood health centers and to compare these to national trends.

Methods: We analyzed de-identified, aggregate client visit data from 2009–2013 from Planned Parenthood affiliates operating approximately 700 health centers. We assessed trends in abortion method type and geographic region.

Results: In 2009, medication abortions accounted for 35% of all first trimester abortions performed at Planned Parenthood. This percentage has increased steadily to 44% in 2013. On average, in 2013, medication abortion accounted for the largest share of all first trimester abortions among health centers located in the South when compared to other regions, and the smallest share among centers in the Midwest. In Ohio — where restrictive laws require four visits to access medication abortion with a 7-week gestational limit — only 8% of abortions performed were medication.

Conclusions: Medication abortion appears to be more common at Planned Parenthood health centers than among U.S. providers overall, though this varies by affiliate.  While Planned Parenthood provides a significant share of abortions nationwide, these findings are limited to our health centers and do not represent all abortions or other types of providers. Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with national trends.

Learning Areas:

Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe trends in medication abortion among Planned Parenthood abortion clients. Describe regional variation in medication abortion at Planned Parenthood.

Keyword(s): Abortion, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As the National Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, I conceived of this study, conducted the data analysis, and interpreted the findings.
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.

Back to: 4349.0: Abortion in the Americas