Responding to crisis: Abortion providers and current restrictions on abortion care
Awarded 2014
Large Research Grants
Sarah Roberts, DrPH, MPH
University of California, San Francisco

The objective of this study was to explore the challenges that abortion providers in conservative or “red” states are experiencing in this period of intense regulation and restriction, and to document what have been their responses to these challenges. (“Providers” in this case refers to administrators and various levels of staff of independent clinics, and not to clinicians). The methods used in this study were qualitative interviews, both with individual providers (either in-person or by telephone) or in groups. Additionally, one focus group was held with supporters of a clinic in a particularly embattled Midwest state. The results were largely not surprising: the enhanced regulatory climate since the “backlash” (to Obama’s first election) 2010 election, which greatly increased the number of conservative legislators and governors in red states, has led to enormous costs for clinics—in terms of money, time and “emotional labor”—in the effort simply to remain open. Additionally, the impact of the video sting on Planned Parenthood, which occurred in summer 2015, more than halfway through this project, has brought even more unwanted scrutiny of clinics, including independent ones. The overall conclusion of this study is that the period since 2010 is arguably the most severe crisis the abortion provider community has experienced since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, but drawing on extraordinary determination and creativity, the clinics under study have managed to beat back the most severe challenges thus far; as one respondent put it, in discussing her efforts to keep her clinic open, “our pride overcomes our trauma.” The outcome of the Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstadt—not known at this writing—is sure to have significant consequences for many of the clinics studied in this project that we are now unable to predict.