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Abortion funds have intervened to ensure young people can access safe, compassionate abortion care in the abortion-restrictive US Southeast. This study identifies barriers to abortion access and describes the obstacles young Southerners who seek abortion funding must navigate to inform strategies to reduce barriers to abortion care.
We conducted a secondary qualitative data analysis of case notes from people aged 21 or younger who resided in six Southeastern states and contacted the ARC-Southeast Healthline between May 2016 and May 2021 (n=2,278). Nine hundred and fifty information-rich case notes were selected for thematic analysis (n=950).
The findings revealed that young Southerners encounter a multitude of barriers addressed by abortion funds within four primary categories: structural barriers, financial barriers, personal barriers, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Each type of barrier contributed to constrained bodily autonomy and delayed abortion care. Case notes also described the difficulties that youth seeking abortion care support navigate, which are scarcely documented in abortion access literature, such as pre-existing conditions, intimate partner violence, and immigration status. We conceptualized these findings into a framework synthesizing the challenges, impacts, and opportunities for abortion provision in the US Southeast.
The study findings suggest abortion funds serve a vital role in the disruption of structural violence imposed by Southern legislators to deter and delay youth from obtaining abortion care. To dismantle the systems of oppression that deny dignity and respect to young Southerners who seek abortion care, the best practices employed by abortion funds should be adopted to improve abortion care provision.
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© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.