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National statistics on abortion and pregnancy in prison

Carolyn Sufrin, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2015

Project abstract

The training and research activities proposed in this Junior Investigator Career Development Award will expand my research program in reproductive health for incarcerated women and set the stage for future grants. I will survey a representative sample of prison and jail systems across the U.S. to prospectively report the aggregate number of pregnant women, abortions, live births, stillbirths and miscarriages, along with reproductive health policies. Despite the fact that most incarcerated women are of reproductive age and that many enter custody pregnant, no current systematic data exist on these vital statistics, and no study has explored abortion incidence. Data analysis will focus on abortion incidence and associations among incarcerated women, information which has never been investigated. Over the next two years, I will build my knowledge of health survey design, skills in biostatistical analysis, and ability to communicate results to policy-makers. Training activities will include mentored guidance and coursework in designing surveys assessing vital statistics from government agencies (prisons and jails) as well as coursework and directed teaching from mentors in mixed effects modeling and weighted analysis for clustered data. I will also undertake training to foster communication skills between research and policy. The research and training I propose will further my career goals of becoming a leading national researcher in reproductive health and policy for incarcerated women and will fill a major knowledge gap that can lead to potential improvements in reproductive health disparities for one of the most vulnerable populations of women in the U.S.


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