March 2023

Travel for later abortion in the USA: Lived experiences, structural contributors, and abortion fund support

Makleff S, Blaylock R, Ruggiero S, Key K, Chandrasekaran S, Gerdts C. Culture, Health, & Sexualty. Mar 2023. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2023.2179666

As abortion restrictions expand in the United States, pregnant people will continue to experience delays and be forced to travel for abortion. The study aims to describe later abortion travel experiences, understand structural factors influencing travel, and identify strategies to improve travel.

This qualitative phenomenological study analyzes data from 19 interviews with people who travelled at least 25 miles for abortion after the first trimester. Framework analysis used a structural violence lens. More than two-thirds of participants travelled interstate, and half received abortion fund support. Key considerations of travel include logistics, challenges during the journey, and physical and emotional recovery during and after travel. Restrictive laws, financial insecurity and anti-abortion infrastructure are forms of structural violence that created challenges and delays. Reliance on abortion funds facilitated access but also entailed uncertainty.

Better resourced abortion funds could organise travel in advance, facilitate the travel of accompanying escorts, and tailor emotional support to reduce stress for those travelling. Clinical and practical support systems must be prepared to support people travelling for abortion, as later abortion and forced travel is increasing since the constitutional right to abortion in the United States was overturned. Findings can inform interventions to support the increasing number of people travelling for abortion.