Secondary measures of access to abortion services in the United States, 2011 and 2012: gestational age limits, cost, and harassment

Jerman J

Jones RK

Women's Health Issues
Aug 2014

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 = 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.