An exploration of Black women’s lived experiences of abortion
Awarded 2019
Complex Family Planning Fellowship Research
Katherine Brown, MD
University of California, San Francisco

We will conduct a qualitative study using a narrative interviewing approach to understand the experiences of abortion among Black women. Specifically, we aim to explore how abortion connects to other aspects of Black women’s lives, both reproductive and otherwise. We will conduct in-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with Black women in the San Francisco Bay Area who have undergone abortion within the past year. We are limiting this study to the Bay Area because of the value of conducting face-to-face interviews when covering complex discussions around race and reproduction. We plan to recruit women across socioeconomic backgrounds. We will aim to interview approximately 40 women, but will complete interviews once we have reached theoretical sufficiency. Participants will be recruited from multiple abortion clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We will develop the interview guide based on themes expressed in two unpublished foundational studies on Black women’s opinions of abortion and Black women’s views of how structural racism impacts their health. I will further adapt and develop the interview guide to focus on women who have had an abortion with the help of research mentors who are also experts in qualitative methodology. This study expands on these two foundational studies by specifically focusing on women who have had an abortion. 
We will conduct interviews using a narrative approach. We will record and transcribe interviews. We will analyze data using a modified grounded theory approach.  Briefly, we will use constant comparative methods, iterative data collection and analysis, and will use coding procedures consistent with grounded theory generation (e.g., line-by-line and axial).
Potential Impact/Expected Outcomes
This work has the potential to reframe racial differences in abortion and abortion stigma in the US into the lived experience of Black women.  Reproductive justice is a term coined in 1994 by Black women after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Loretta Ross describes that reproductive justice is grounded in four principles, “right for bodily autonomy, the right to have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” The reproductive justice movement was born out of a need for the mostly White leaders of the national feminist movement in the US to understand how the unique racialized experienced of women of color impact their reproductive health ability and decision-making.  This is reproductive-justice-informed research which will help to bridge the gap between academic family planning research and reproductive justice by focusing the abortion experience on the demographic that experiences abortion the most—Black women.