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Patient ultrasound viewing and abortion care

Tracy Weitz, University of California, San Francisco, 2008
See also executive summary.

Project abstract

Seeking a small grant to launch the first phase of our Abortion and Ultrasound Research and Policy Program. In this phase we seek to explore and document patient ultrasound viewing practices among abortion providers in the United States. We also propose to design a larger research project to explore how such ultrasound viewing practices impact women’s pregnancy decision making and their overall abortion experience.

Ultrasound viewing in the abortion setting has received more attention in recent years as states have passed regulations mandating specific ultrasound procedures. Anti-abortion groups and legislators advocate for ultrasound viewing laws based on the hypothesis that women who view their own ultrasounds are less likely to have an abortion than women who do not. Reproductive rights advocates have opposed these regulations citing concerns about both the impact of such laws on women’s abortion experience, and the law’s contribution to personifying the fetus and drawing attention away from the experiences of women. Due to diverse laws and opinions, different providers have different practices for addressing ultrasound viewing during the abortion appointment.

Through interviews with 30 diverse abortion providers and ethnographic observation at 10 abortion practices, we intend to document the variety of ultrasound viewing practices taking place in the United States. We will generate a confidential report summarizing the findings of the interviews, policy review and ethnographic research to be shared with the reproductive health community. Next we will develop a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists and clinicians to design a research project to assess how such ultrasound viewing practices impact women’s pregnancy decision making and their overall abortion experience.


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