How homelessness and housing instability impact abortion outcomes

People experiencing homelessness and housing instability often have worse reproductive health outcomes. They have a higher likelihood of poor pregnancy outcomes such as higher rates of preterm birth, low birth-weight infants, and longer infant hospital stays. However, llittle is known about abortion outcomes in people without access to stable housing. 

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

New research from the San Francisco General Hospital Women’s Options Center and Bixby members investigates the relationship between housing status and abortion outcomes.

Reviewing records from the clinic, the researchers found that nineteen percent of abortions were found to be among people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. When compared to those with stable housing, they were later on in their pregnancy when they had their abortion. Although abortion complications were rare as expected, people without stable housing were more likely to have abortion complications. The research suggests that arriving at the clinic later in pregnancy led to the higher rate of complications.

This research demonstrates how people experiencing homelessness and housing instability may be disproportionately impacted by laws that ban abortion after a certain gestational age as they often present later in pregnancy. Previous studies have shown the numerous short- and long-term consequences of being denied a wanted abortion. Further research is needed to understand why people without access to stable housing present for abortion care later in pregnancy. Future interventions must center reproductive autonomy, supporting people’s decisions around abortion, adoption and parenting.