"The study found that women who had an abortion in the first or second trimester had a 35% increased risk of a low birth weight baby and a 36% raised risk of a pre-term baby in later pregnancies."
However, the author of the study, Dr. Prakesh Shah, insisted that there may be other factors that could contribute to these findings, such as damage to the cervix or uterus during the procedure. (He noted that certain drugs are now used to "ripen" the cervix, thus lessening the risk of damage.)
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Dr. Shah, however, seemed more worried about how some voices in the abortion debate might distort this information to further their anti-choice cause.
"I think it should not be used as a way of saying, this is bad and we should not be doing this kind of thing. There is an association which we should be aware of, and we should let mothers be aware. I don’t want unintended pregnancies to increase."
The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.
A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.
Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”
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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.
The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.
This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.
As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”
Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.
“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”
Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.
The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.
“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”
Until recently, a person who Googled "abortion clinic" might be directed to a CPC instead. CPCs, as a result, are reaching more clients than ever, but as statistics indicate, persuading very few to remain pregnant.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.
Of the 2.6 million clients who visited crisis pregnancy centers since 2004, 3.52 percent, or 92,679 people, decided against having an abortion. The statistics come from eKYROS.com, Inc., an anti-choice, Texas-based software company, which says more than 1,200 CPCs use its software to track clients and measure results.
The publicly available data, as the eKYROS website explains, reflects “clients who came to the center with initial intentions of Abortion or Undecided and then changed their mind to carry baby to term.”
These “relationships” are key to the ability of CPCs to show their worth to religious backers. The centers showcase their “success stories,” or “lives saved,” in annual reports, fundraising campaigns, and promotional materials.
Meanwhile, Republican-held legislatures are funneling millions to these anti-choice facilities, buoyed by “success stories,” which statistics suggest are few and far between.
One of these “success stories” is Evelin, a 26-year-old who says she was jobless, going to school, and sleeping on her mother’s couch when she learned of her pregnancy. Recounting her story in a video produced by the CPC Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, Evelin describes how the center’s staff persuaded her to remain pregnant by showing her “how big” her “baby” was and by giving her a baby book.
Evelin’s story is one of a handful that Los Angeles Pregnancy Services promotes online.
But statistics reported by eKYROS suggest that CPCs overwhelmingly fail to reach or persuade their target audience of people seeking to end a pregnancy, despite outnumbering abortion clinics. At least 22 states furnish some form of public funding to CPCs, as Republican-majority legislatures cut financial support for Planned Parenthood.
CPCs are often tied to national anti-choice umbrella groups, such as Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and Care Net, which alone numbers 1,100 affiliates. An eKYROS demo posted online indicates that some Care Net-affiliated CPCs use the software to report to the national office, although it’s not clear how many.
eKYROS and Care Net did not respond to multiple information requests, including a query about an apparent mismatch between figures reported by Care Net and eKYROS.
Care Net in its most recent annual report said it “saved” 73,000 lives in 2014. eKYROS, however, reported 3,476 births in 2014 from “clients who came to the center with initial intentions of Abortion or Undecided and then changed their mind to carry baby to term and the pregnancy outcome was confirmed as a birth by the center.”
Anti-choice groups typically equate preventing abortions to “saving lives,” so the basis for the 69,524 “lives” discrepancy is unclear.
Kimberly Kelly, who has studied CPCs for a decade and is associate professor of sociology and director of gender studies at Mississippi State University, told Rewire in an interview that the centers frequently count both the pregnant person and the fetus as “saved lives,” essentially double counting.
The tactics employed by CPCs to attract pregnant clients are legion and growing.
The centers are also evolving outreach to incorporate high-tech tools, employing digital marketing campaigns to reach patients seeking to end a pregnancy, and offering information via chat, text, and online video appointments.
CPCs, as a result, are reaching more clients than ever, as eKYROS statistics indicate, but persuading very few to remain pregnant. CPCs in 2015 convinced 4 percent of 307,068 clients to change their minds “to carry the baby to term,” compared to 1 percent of 43,086 in 2004.
Despite that, according to figures compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, ten states agreed to budget about $17 million in 2015 to providers of “abortion alternatives.”
By all accounts, eKYROS’ statistics, which rely on self-reports by CPC operators, are credible. Independent research and surveys by anti-choice groups find a similar lack of success by CPCs at dissuading patients seeking abortion.
In the first academic study of evangelical CPCs published in 2014 in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Kelly, who has long studied CPCs, writes that the centers’ national leadership has “issued several reports lamenting the declining proportions of ‘abortion-minded’ women visiting centers.” These reports suggest, as Kelly observes, that CPCs “primarily serve women who would have continued their pregnancies anyway.”
A new study in the journal Contraception reinforces these findings, showing that 2 percent of 273 clients at an Indiana pregnancy center asked about abortion over a six-month period. The center in the study offers diapers, baby clothes, parenting resources, along with abortion referrals—the only center in the state to do so. Nearly nine in ten clients asked for diapers.
The institute reportedly recommended adding more comprehensive services, particularly medical services.
“People want a center that is medical and has services that are affordable,” institute president Chuck Donovan said of the survey results.
Kelly, however, suggested that attempts at reinvention by CPCs may ignore larger, institutional shortcomings. In her research, she described a fundamental disconnect between the staff at CPCs—largely white, middle-class women—and the clientele, who generally are low-income and racially and ethnically diverse.
And, as Kelly told Rewire, the fact that CPCs fall far short of their goal doesn’t mean operators will call it quits or regard the centers as failures. If anything, the meager results cast the centers in the role of David, squaring off against the Goliath of Planned Parenthood and other health-care organizations in a culture war.
“It’s their duty to take action as God would want, the actual outcomes are up to God,” Kelly explained. “The less successful they are, the greater the proof that a fallen society needs them.”