Knowledge of state-level abortion laws and policies among front-line staff at facilities providing abortion services

Dodge LE

Haider S

Hacker MR

Women's Health Issues
Sep 2012


To determine the accuracy of information regarding state-level abortion laws and policies received by a simulated patient from front-line staff at facilities providing abortion services.


U.S. states were ranked by restrictiveness of access to abortion, and a simulated patient made calls to the five most and six least restrictive states. Three scripts were used to simulate the following three patients: a 17-year-old minor, a married woman, and a woman at 15 weeks of gestation. Each facility was called three times. Accuracy of the information provided was assessed using a list of laws published monthly by the Guttmacher Institute.


Of 138 calls, 72 (52.2%) were made to least restrictive states, and 66 (47.8%) were made to most restrictive states. Information provided by front-line staff was generally excellent, with over 90% accuracy regarding spousal and parental involvement, presence of, and length of mandatory waiting periods. Most inaccuracies were owing to responses of "I don't know." Despite providing highly accurate information regarding the existence of parental involvement laws, only 55.6% of front-line staff members in states with parental involvement laws informed the simulated minor patient of her right to a judicial bypass.


Information regarding state abortion laws and policies provided by front-line staff members at facilities that provide abortion services is highly accurate, with the exception of judicial bypass for parental involvement. Resources should be developed for reproductive health care providers and their staff to ensure that all information provided to patients is accurate and comprehensive.

Copyright © 2012 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.