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The Health and Social Service Needs of Pregnant Women Who Consider but Do Not Have Abortions.



States have enacted an increasing number of policies restricting access to abortion. As a result, some women are unable to obtain an abortion and instead continue their pregnancies. These women may have particular needs that would bring them to the attention of public health programs.


Pregnant women entering prenatal care completed a self-administered survey and structured interview at four prenatal facilities in Louisiana and Maryland (N = 586). Participants reported their pregnancy intentions, whether they had considered abortion, and their reasons for not having an abortion (e.g., personal reasons, policy barriers to care). Participants completed up to 13 items indicating their service needs; an index was created by summing across nine common items. Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses, and multivariable regression models that controlled for sociodemographic characteristics.


On average, women reported 2.99 service needs. The most common needs were WIC (93%), food stamps (85%), dental care (59%), and housing assistance (53%). In multivariable analyses, women who considered abortion but did not face a policy barrier reported greater service needs compared to women who did not consider abortion (3.45 vs. 2.82; b = 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-1.04). Women reporting a policy barrier to abortion reported the highest service needs (3.95) of all groups, although differences were not statistically significant possibly owing to sample size.


Pregnant women who consider abortion before entering prenatal care have considerable health and social service needs. Public health programs that serve women and children should consider the specific needs of women who seek abortions.

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