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ANSIRH News

ANSIRH Update: May 2017

Fifteen years ago, in 2002, Drs. Felicia Stewart and Tracy Weitz founded Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). This year, we are celebrating one and a half decades of conducting innovative, rigorous, multidisciplinary research on complex issues related to people’s sexual and reproductive lives.

As part of our 15th anniversary celebration, we are launching ANSIRH Updates - a quarterly email digest to keep you better informed on our research, our communications efforts, and recognition for ANSIRH's work.

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Study explores pathway to making medication abortion available without a prescription

A literature review by Ipas and ANSIRH lays out a regulatory pathway for medication abortion to be made available without a prescription. The paper, which identifies the evidence needed to determine whether women can safely access nonprescription medication abortion, also suggests that the drugs meet many of the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over-the-counter sale.

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Health care system contributes to women shouldering burdens of preventing pregnancy

A study from ANSIRH’s Katrina Kimport finds that during contraceptive counseling visits, clinicians normalized and legitimized women assuming the mental and emotional burdens of contraception. In fact, they regularly expressed doubt or surprise or even dismissed women’s desire not to have children in the future. As a result, the clinicians promoted contraceptive methods that would preserve fertility—but also require women to continue to shoulder the work of maintaining these methods, rather than sterilization procedures.

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TV greatly exaggerates the medical and psychological risks associated with abortion

ANSIRH’s Abortion Onscreen project found that abortion complications are much more common TV than in real life. Television also exaggerates not only the frequency but the severity of such complications, portraying them as extreme, life-threatening, and contributing to adverse outcomes such as infertility, depression, and death. In real life, such outcomes are extremely rare.

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Editorial: White House policy changes put women’s health at risk

In an editorial featured in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, ANSIRH’s Dan Grossman examines how the Trump administration’s sexual and reproductive health policy changes threaten women in the USA and across the world. One concerning development is the re-imposition of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, which prevents US-funded organizations from providing, informing about, or advocating for abortion care in their countries.

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Public health experts call for an end to overregulation of mifepristone

REMS place medically unnecessary burdens on patients and providers, and keep mifepristone from being prescribed by clinicians or sold in pharmacies alongside hundreds of other prescription medications. Overregulation means that fewer providers offer mifepristone and fewer women have access to this safe and effective option for ending a pregnancy. This burden is especially heavy on poor and rural women.

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Television plotlines inaccurately portray the ease of abortion access

The Abortion Onscreen project identified 89 plotlines from 2005 to 2015, including in popular shows such as Shameless, Orange is the New Black and Friday Night Lights, in which characters considered or had an abortion. Our analysis found that these plotlines often under-represent the various difficulties, including legal barriers, financial constraints and social pressures, which real women face in pursuing abortions.

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Study finds relationship between distance to nearest clinic in TX and decline in abortion rate

Research from ANSIRH and the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) exploring the impact of House Bill 2 (HB 2) – the restrictive Texas abortion law that was struck down by the Supreme Court – found that increases in travel distance to the nearest abortion clinic caused by clinic closures were closely associated with decreases in the official number of abortions.

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Abortion Onscreen in 2016

In 2016, we identified 13 plotlines on American television where a character considers getting an abortion, and 10 plotlines where they actually do obtain one. These numbers follow the patterns we’ve observed over the past three years: a fairly consistent number of pregnancy decision-making plotlines and abortion results, with a slight increase in the rate of choosing abortion over past decades (77% this year, compared to about 50% in our overall sample).

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No evidence of emerging mental health problems after having an abortion

In “Women’s mental health and well-being five years after receiving or being denied an abortion: A prospective, longitudinal cohort study,” published in JAMA Psychiatry, ANSIRH’s Turnaway Study found that having an abortion does not adversely affect women’s mental health either at the time of the abortion or over five years after receiving abortion care. We also found that denying women abortion has negative consequences to their mental health and well-being in the short-term.

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Banner photo: © Aura Orozco-Fuentes

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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