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Secondary Measures of Access to Abortion Services in the United States, 2011 and 2012: Gestational Age Limits, Cost, and Harassment

Jenna Jerman, Guttmacher Institute Rachel K. Jones, Guttmacher Institute

First published on Women's Health Issues:

| DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2014.05.002
Abstract / Summary

Background

Aspects of U.S. clinical abortion service provision such as gestational age limits, charges for abortion services, and anti-abortion harassment can impact the accessibility of abortion; this study documents changes in these measures between 2008 and 2012.

Methods

In 2012 and 2013, we surveyed all known abortion-providing facilities in the United States (n ¼ 1,720). This study summarizes information obtained about gestational age limits, charges, and exposure to anti-abortion harassment among clinics; response rates for relevant items ranged from 54% (gestational limits) to 80% (exposure to harassment). Weights were constructed to compensate for nonresponding facilities. We also examine the distribution of abortions and abortion facilities by region.

Findings

Almost all abortion facilities (95%) offered abortions at 8 weeks’ gestation; 72% did so at 12 weeks, 34% at 20 weeks, and 16% at 24 weeks in 2012. In 2011 and 2012, the median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $495, and $500 for an early medication abortion, compared with $503 and $524 (adjusted for inflation) in 2009. In 2011, 84% of clinics experienced at least one form of harassment, only slightly higher than found in 2009. Hospitals and physicians’ offices accounted for a substantially smaller proportion of facilities in the Midwest and South. Clinics in the Midwest and South were exposed to more harassment than their counterparts in the Northeast and West.

Conclusions

Although there was a substantial decline in abortion incidence between 2008 and 2011, the secondary measures of abortion access examined in this study changed little during this time period.