Considering abortion is common among women seeking prenatal care

Research on decision-making around abortion and the impact of abortion restrictions generally focuses on women who had an abortion or show up at an abortion clinic. New research from ANSIRH has added new dimension to these discussions by talking to women at prenatal clinics.

Researchers asked women at clinics in Louisiana and Maryland if they had considered abortion for their current pregnancy and reasons they did not obtain one. About three out of ten of participants had considered an abortion in both states, suggesting that considering more than one option for pregnancy outcomes is common. Women’s own preferences were the most common reason for deciding not to have an abortion. Abortion restrictions may prevent some women from obtaining wanted abortions. Women in Louisiana, a state with half a dozen laws restricting abortion--including gestational limits and lack of state funding to pay for low-income women’s abortions--were six times more likely to report a policy-related barrier to obtaining an abortion than women in Maryland, a state with one law restricting abortion access.

This study suggests that women make their pregnancy decision prior to meeting with a clinician, whether that is for prenatal care or abortion. The findings indicate that women make their own decisions about abortion without state intervention, but that living in a state with multiple abortion restrictions preventions some women from obtaining wanted abortions. It also indicates that studies that examine the impact of abortion restrictions through studying solely women who interact with abortion clinics underestimate the true number of women affected by abortion restrictions.