Press Release |

New Study Reinforces Anti-Abortion Restrictions May Pose Barriers to Care

November 9, 2020
Contact: Kelsey Brill,


New Study Reinforces Anti-Abortion Restrictions May Pose Barriers to Care

Highly-restrictive legislative climates may pose significant barriers to abortion care across the country as evidenced by a new study published today, November 9, 2020, in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Study data were obtained from 18 states between 2000 and 2014 and the findings suggest that a restrictive policy environment itself, even when considering distance to a provider of abortion care, may act as a barrier to accessing this safe, essential health care.

“We have robust data from around the globe that individuals continue to need abortions, regardless of the legal status of that care,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ben Brown, an ob/gyn in Rhode Island and Fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. “When we see a drop in the abortion rate associated with a highly-restrictive legislative climate it raises the concern that people who need abortions are being prevented from accessing this basic health care. There is a large literature that underscores that when an individual is prevented from accessing abortion, this denial of care is associated with increased physical and mental health risks, as well as a greater risk of financial instability. Abortion denials, therefore, have tremendous potential for harm.”

The study finds that a highly-restrictive legislative climate (defined by having three or more of four types of restrictive legislation) was associated with approximately a 17% decline from the median abortion rate. Like all barriers to health care, the impacts of these barriers are not experienced equitably.

Dr. Brown continues, “We know that barriers to care will likely disproportionately harm people who already experience challenges accessing care, such as people of color, gender diverse individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, and those who are uninsured or underinsured.”

Abortion is health care that should not be under threat from politically motivated restrictions.

The full text of the paper is available HERE


Authors: Benjamin P. Brown, MD, MS; Luciana E. Hebert, PhD; Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH; Robert Kaestner, PhD

About PRH: Physicians for Reproductive Health (PRH) is a national network of physicians advocating on behalf of comprehensive reproductive health care. Learn more at