New Study Examines Abortion Access in the Southeast

May 6, 2021

Researchers from the Emory Rollins School of Public Health’s Center for Reproductive Health Research in the Southeast (RISE) recently published a study examining abortion data in the Southeast in a recent issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Whitney Rice, DrPH, MPH, is first author. Katie Labgold, an Emory PhD candidate and RISE fellow, contributed to the article. Community-based collaborators at Access Reproductive Care – Southeast (ARC-Southeast), Oriaku Njoku and Quita Tinsley Peterson, are co-authors.

The researchers examined nearly 10,000 cases of people who had called to seek support from ARC-Southeast —an abortion fund that provides financial and logistical support for people seeking abortion care in the Southeast—between 2017 and 2019 among six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee).  

Data revealed the following key findings:

  • 81% of callers were Black, 18 to 34 years-old, uninsured or publicly insured, and had at least one child already.
  • 64% of callers were no more than 10 weeks along in their pregnancies.
  • 48% of callers resided within 24 miles of an abortion clinic.
  • 23% of callers were more than 100 miles from the clinic.

“Given the role of abortion funds in providing a key social safety net for abortion care amidst increasing abortion restriction policies, analyses of abortion fund case management data are valuable for evaluating inequities in abortion access,” says Rice. “Yet, limited published scientific description of people seeking abortion funds, and the barriers that they’ve faced while seeking abortion care is available.”  

She adds, “These data provide an important snapshot of a large number of people in the U.S. Southeast who faced financial and logistical barriers to accessing abortion care with insights into the type of abortion care they received, at which gestations, and how far they had to travel for abortion care, among other lived experiences.”

A greater understanding of who is seeking abortion fund support at the state level may also better inform resource investment in abortion funds, and abortion access policy, advocacy, organizing, and research.