As frontline providers, publicly funded family planning clinics represent a critical link in the health system for women seeking information about pregnancy options, yet scant information exists on their provision of relevant services. Understanding their practices is important for gauging how well these facilities serve patients’ needs.
A 2012 survey of 567 publicly funded family planning facilities in 16 states gathered information on referral-making for adoption and abortion services, and perceived proximity to abortion services. Chi-square, multivariable logistic regression and multinomial logistic regression analyses were performed to assess differences among facilities in referral-making and reported proximity to abortion services.
Abortion referrals were provided by a significantly smaller proportion of providers than were adoption referrals (84% vs. 97%). Health departments and community health centers were significantly less likely than comprehensive reproductive health centers to refer for abortion services and to have a list of abortion providers available (odds ratios, 0.1–0.2). Rural facilities were more likely than urban ones to report a distance of more than 100 miles to the closest first-trimester abortion provider (relative risk ratio, 11.4), second-trimester abortion provider (8.7) and medication abortion provider (8.0). Health departments were more likely than comprehensive reproductive health centers not to know the location of the closest first-trimester, second-trimester or medication abortion provider (2.5–3.5).
A better understanding of disparities in provision of pregnancy options counseling and referrals at publicly funded family planning clinics is needed to ensure that women get timely care.
Luciana E. Hebert is research specialist 3, in the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago. Camille Fabiyi is research manager, in the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago. Lee A. Hasselbacher is policy coordinator, in the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago. Katherine Starr is assistant professor, William Beaumont School of Medicine, Oakland University, Rochester, MI. Melissa L. Gilliam is professor of obstetrics and gynecology and professor of pediatrics; chief of family planning and contraceptive research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and associate dean of diversity and inclusion, Biological Science Division, University of Chicago.