Conceptualizing “unmet need” for abortion: An exploratory study
Awarded 2020
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Ariana Bennett, MPH
University of California, Berkeley

Ariana Bennett is currently a doctor of public health student at the University of California, Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in women, gender, and sexuality. Before returning to school, she worked for eight years with the Fellowship in Family Planning in Family Medicine alongside family physicians integrating abortion and contraception into primary care. In her role with the fellowship, she helped each fellow develop and conduct clinically- and socially-relevant research. Ariana received an MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health with a concentration in Sexuality and Health, and before that, worked as a sexuality and health educator in high schools. The multiple, often insurmountable, barriers to abortion access in the U.S. suggest that there are people who want to obtain an abortion but are not able to, indicating an “unmet need” for abortion. This is an exploratory, qualitative study that will be the first phase of a larger, multi-method dissertation project that aims to conceptualize and develop a measure of unmet need for abortion in the U.S. Through in-depth interviews with 30-40 abortion access stakeholders, she aims to create a conceptual model of unmet need for abortion. Results will be used to understand potential opportunities and unintended consequences of a quantitative measure of unmet need for abortion and to develop a preliminary list of indicators that could be used to measure the constructs. A nuanced, carefully constructed measure of unmet need for abortion could be used to encourage policymakers and public health systems to direct attention and resources to ensuring abortion access.