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Understanding the role of sexual identity in shaping pregnancy intentions & decisions: a critical step in preventing unintended pregnancy among sexual minority women

Emma Carpenter, MSW, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Historically, the field of family planning has not considered the role of sexual identity in shaping family planning needs. Given that roughly 20% of women under 30 identify as something other than heterosexual and face reproductive health disparities, family planning must be attuned to the needs of this population. Sexual minority women (SMW), including lesbian and bisexual women, are at an increased risk of mistimed and unwanted pregnancy. However, little research explores what happens after unwanted or mistimed pregnancies occur or the role of sexual identity in shaping pregnancy experiences, including the decision to have an abortion. By conducting an integrative review and a qualitative investigation, this proposed research aims to understand the role of sexual identity in family planning priorities and practice, including contexts of unintended pregnancies and decisions about pregnancies once they occur. In addition to investing in an emerging family planning scholar, the proposed study will inform future research, clinical practice, and policy advocacy. Understanding how sexual identity shapes experiences with unintended pregnancies and abortion among sexual minority women is a critical step in improving compassionate family planning services and abortion care for women of all identities.


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