Extending gestation beyond the mythical point of viability
Awarded 2023
Later abortion service delivery, post-Dobbs
Tracy Weitz, PhD, MPA
American University

The Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe v Wade in June 2022. Yet, despite the absence of the Roe framework, the “viability” standard remains in some state laws and is used by many abortion providers as the cut off for the services they offer. For years, abortion providers have routinely operationalized “viability” as a measurement of 23 weeks and six days gestation on ultrasound. Abortion seekers after that point were directed to care at a small number of providers located in places that require significant travel. In this project, we aim to document how two facilities in southern Illinois collectively moved their services from that “mythical point of viability” to 28 weeks of pregnancy gestation to meet the increased demand for later abortion care in the Midwest that started before and has increased after Dobbs. This study will use in-depth qualitative interviews with the facilities workforce to elicit experiences related to the decision to and the implementation of expanded gestational limit abortion care. We will also describe the composition of the overall workforce at the two facilities and measure their experience with abortion stigma. Finally, we will calculate the number of and potentially describe the patients served through these expansion efforts. The end goal of this project is to produce evidence on how abortions providers successfully expanded access to care and to demonstrate that such expansions have positive consequences for the health and wellbeing of marginalized populations.