A study recently released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the legalization of mifepristone in 2000 has not dramatically improved geographic access to abortion services in the US. The study will be published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Lawrence B. Finer, the lead author of the study said in a press release, “While many in the reproductive health field believed approval of mifepristone would expand access to abortion services, particularly in rural areas, that has not happened to any significant extent…Instead, almost a decade later, we find that women in areas that already had access to abortion now have the choice between a medication or a surgical abortion. But for most women who were not easily able to access an abortion provider before mifepristone became available, services remain difficult to obtain.”
Despite minimal access in rural areas, the study found that the total number of mifepristone providers increased from 208 at the end of 2000, when mifepristone was legalized in the US, to 902 in 2007. However, the study found only 5 mifepristone providers who were located more than 50 miles away from any surgical providers (who performed 400 or more abortions). In total, mifepristone abortions were approximately 14% of all abortions performed in 2007 and 21% of early abortions.
A different brief (see PDF) released earlier this month by the Guttmacher Institute indicates that at least 46 states allow health care providers to refuse women at least one form of reproductive health care such as contraception, sterilization or abortion. This study found that health care providers are permitted to deny abortion services in 46 states, contraception in 13 states, and sterilization in 17 states. Some of the laws and regulations in question apply only to private health care institutions or to individual health care professionals, but others apply to all health care institutions in the state.