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Do women traveling greater distances to obtain abortion services experience undue burden?

Sarah Peterson, University of Colorado Denver

Project abstract

More abortion restrictions have been enacted in the past few years compared to any prior decade, threatening women's access to safe abortion care. Under the 'Casey' standard stemming from Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey in 1992, recent legislative cases have not deemed distance traveled to obtain an abortion to be an “undue burden.” This notion of “undue burden” has subsequently been interpreted in various ways and applied in legal debates; in most cases, these interpretations have not favored access for women. With the increase in state-specific legal restrictions passed under the notion that there is no undue burden, it is imperative to better understand what factors contribute to a woman's perception of burden when obtaining an abortion.

This study enrolls reproductive-aged women obtaining abortion care at our outpatient abortion clinic, which serves many women in Colorado and nearby states. Participants complete a survey regarding whether they perceive arranging and attending their abortion appointment to be a burden and similarly other relevant factors. I plan to create and validate an “abortion access burden scale” using survey responses. With this validated scale, I will determine if and how travel distance, or any other factors, plays a role in perceived level of burden. In doing so, I will provide a validated scale to help quantify level of burden in obtaining abortion services for other settings and better understand what factors, if any, contribute to a greater level of burden for women accessing abortion services.

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