Over 50 percent of women of childbearing age in Alabama reside in counties that lack an abortion provider. State regulations necessitate that women seeking abortion must either have in-person counseling or documented receipt of state-published materials sent by certified mail followed by a waiting period of 48 hours. Dr. Kari White, assistant professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health—in collaboration with Dr. Janet M. Turan, a professor in the department—recently looked into the influence that the combination of limited services and the mandatory consultation and waiting period policy has on women having to travel long distances to receive abortion care.
[Photo: Dr. Kari White]
In-depth telephone interviews were conducted at least a day after the consultation, procedure, or follow-up visit with 25 women who had to travel more than 30 miles to access an Alabama clinic providing abortion services. The researchers used content analysis methods to code and analyze transcripts detailing the interviews.
“Almost all women found a clinic by searching online or talking to others in their social networks who had abortions. These strategies did not always direct women to the closest clinic, and some described searches that yielded inaccurate information. The majority of women did not believe an in-person consultation visit was necessary and found it to be burdensome because of the extra travel required and long waits at the clinic. Two-thirds of the women were unable to schedule their abortion 48 hours later owing to work schedules or because appointments were offered only once a week, and four women were delayed until their second trimester, even though they sought services earlier in pregnancy,” observes Dr. White.
Since it is frequently difficult for women in communities without a provider to obtain timely abortion care, the investigators concluded that efforts need to be made to improve accessibility of services and to prevent further restrictions.
“Experiences Accessing Abortion Care in Alabama among Women Traveling for Services” was published online in February 2016 in the journal Women’s Health Issues.
Journal article: http://www.whijournal.com/article/S1049-3867(16)00004-9/abstract