Many US Women Face Distance Barriers To Abortion Access Interview with:
Jonathan Marc Bearak, PhD

Senior Research Scientist
Guttmacher Institute
New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although U.S. women who live farther from abortion clinics are less likely to obtain one, no national study has examined inequality in women’s access to abortion and whether inequality in abortion access has increased as the number of abortion clinics have declined.

We found that half of women live within 11 miles of an abortion provider. However, 1 in 5 women would need to travel at least 43 miles. We found substantially greater variation within than across states, because even in relatively rural states, women and clinics were concentrated in urban areas. These disparities have persisted since at least 2000. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: A woman’s access to reproductive healthcare is too contingent on her zip code. Distance is one obstacle. Poverty, stigma and isolation compound one another. Some women have to travel hundreds of miles each way to reach an abortion provider. With in-person counseling and waiting period requirements in many states, some women have to make multiple trips, with each trip lasting hundreds of miles. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Women who want to access reproductive healthcare face obstacles that have no basis in science, health or safety. More research can help inform the policy debate and can inform healthcare delivery systems that might alleviate the stresses related to the multitude of obstacles women face. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Many areas of the U.S. are implementing restrictive policies aimed at curtailing abortion. These have no basis in science, health or safety. As a result, many women — particularly women who live outside of urban centers — face unnecessary and arbitrary barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare, particularly abortion care. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Disparities and change over time in distance women would need to travel to have an abortion in the USA: a spatial analysis

Dr. Jonathan M Bearak, r Jonathan M Bearak
Kristen Lagasse Burke, BA
Rachel K Jones, PhD
Published: 03 October 2017
The Lancet PUBLIC Health

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on October 6, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD