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.