Mixed-methods investigation of women’s experiences with second-trimester abortion care in the Midwest and Northeast United States

Blanchard K

Meadows JR

Gutierrez HR

Hannum CPS

Douglas-Durham EF

Dennis AJ

Dec 2017
We studied women's experiences seeking and receiving second-trimester abortion care in two geographically and legislatively different settings to inform ways to improve abortion care access and services.  
Study design
We conducted in-depth interviews with women who obtained second-trimester abortion care. Themes from the interviews were then used to inform a self-administered survey, which was completed by 108 women who received second-trimester abortion care in the Northeast and Midwest. We calculated descriptive statistics and used chi-squared and t-tests to compare responses.  
We interviewed eight women and surveyed 108 women. Most interviewees and 65.2% of survey respondents reported difficulties accessing care. Although most interview and survey respondents had insurance, a slight majority reported difficulty funding care. All interviewees and 57.9% of survey respondents reported positive experiences with providers, with many interviewees and 62.0% of survey respondents saying their abortion care was better than their usual health care. Most interviewees and 75.8% of survey respondents reported pain as low to moderate, and the majority of participants reported it was the same or less than expected. Knowledge about abortion restrictions was low. Most interviewees and 68.4% survey respondents disagreed with restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion. Common recommendations to improve experiences were to ensure travel and financial support and to decrease wait times at clinics. There were few regional differences among outcomes.  
Women seeking second-trimester abortion in these locations reported positive abortion experiences. However, they had to overcome significant obstacles to obtain care.  
This is the first study to systematically research women's second-trimester care experiences in two different regions of the United States. Regardless of location, women experienced barriers due to policies that impose gestational age restrictions, limit provider availability (consequently increasing wait times), and increase costs. Policy change to reduce these barriers is critical to improve access to and experiences with second trimester abortion care.