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*Editors' Note: As of January 2017, the Monthly Women's Health Research Review has been discontinued. Below are archived articles for your reference.

Authorizing Pharmacies To Dispense Medication Abortion Could Improve Access in U.S.

July 29, 2015

In this commentary, researchers compared medication abortion regulation in Australia, where women can obtain the necessary medications via prescription at pharmacies, and in the U.S., where FDA requires that the initial medication abortion drug, mifepristone, be administered "only by physicians in clinics, offices or hospitals and cannot be dispensed in pharmacies." The researchers urged U.S. regulators to adopt policies similar to Australia's, noting that the resulting "potential improvements in access to early medical abortion could be great -- both in terms of the number and distribution of providers, as well as the expansion of the use of telemedicine."

Study Assesses Relationship Between Abortion Policies, Laws and Women's Contraceptive Use

July 29, 2015

This study examined women's contraceptive use between 1995 and 2010 -- a time period that "witnessed a significant increase in the proportion of women exposed to restrictive abortion policies and contexts" -- to examine how women's contraceptive choices were influenced by antiabortion-rights law and policies. The researchers found that "women living in states with more restrictive abortion contexts tend to use highly effective contraceptives." According to the researchers, the findings indicated that, "to avoid [unintended] pregnancies, it is important to ensure access to highly effective contraceptive methods for all women when access to abortions is limited."

Study Assesses How Community Health Centers Organize, Deliver Family Planning Services

June 24, 2015

In this study, the authors investigate organizational factors that influence family planning services at community health centers. They found that while the centers "play an integral role in delivering primary care and family planning services," improving access to such services "will require a combination of additional direct funding, technical assistance, and policies that emphasize how health centers can incorporate quality family planning as a fundamental element of primary care."

Increased Use of LARCs Could Help Women Avoid Closely Spaced Pregnancies

June 24, 2015

In this study, researchers examined patterns of women's contraceptive use following delivery, as well as the association between which contraceptives they used and pregnancy risk within the first year and a half. They found that "many U.S. women rely on less-effective contraceptive methods -- or use no method -- in the 18 months after delivery" and urged the implementation of "programs and policies that remove barriers to initiating effective contraception" to help "reduce adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes associated with closely spaced births."

Women's Contraceptive Method Selection Associated With Risk of Pregnancy

June 24, 2015

For this study, researchers examined contraceptive use among privately insured women who wanted to avoid pregnancy for at least 12 months. They found that, "[c]ontrary to [their] hypothesis, pregnancy intentions were not the strongest predictors of using prescription contraceptives that are covered without cost-sharing: current pregnancy risk exposure variables were more strongly associated with using [long-acting reversible contraception] and other prescription contraception, compared with no contraception."

Association Between Adolescent Pelvic Exam and Contraceptive Use Dropping Amid Changes to Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

June 24, 2015

In this study, the authors looked at the association between adolescents' receipt of pelvic exam and/or Pap test and their use of effective or highly effective contraception before and after cervical cancer screening guidelines were changed in 2008 to postpone routine screening until age 21. They wrote that while they found an "apparent decreasing link between pelvic exams and receipt of effective contraception ... it seems plausible that as clinical practice continues to change around the screening pelvic examination, consequent changes in utilization of reproductive health services among adolescents, both in frequency and in source of services, warrant continued monitoring."

Study: Text Message Reminders Help Ensure Teen's Adherence to Contraceptive Injections

June 24, 2015

In this study, researchers explored "the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness" of a text message reminder program, called DepoText, that aims "to improve moderately long-acting reversible contraception [MARC] appointment attendance among young urban adolescent girls and young adult women using Depo-Provera." They found that using cell phone technology "for person-based communication may further improve the effectives of MARCs," which are a major contributor to "reducing unplanned pregnancy among adolescent and young adult women."

Commentary: SCOTUS Could Soon Re-Examine Antiabortion-Rights Laws That Make 'Mockery' of Informed Consent

May 29, 2015

In this commentary, the authors write that a recent federal court ruling striking down a North Carolina antiabortion-rights law could provide "a potential vehicle for a new Supreme Court examination" of state laws that "make a mockery of informed consent and patient autonomy." They argue that "[p]rotection of patients' rights should not be used as a pretext to promote partisan political purposes in the examining room."

Study: Medicaid Delay Policy for Elective Tubal Sterilization Violates Health Care Justice Framework

May 29, 2015

In this commentary, the authors argue that measures that require Medicaid beneficiaries to provide consent 30 days prior to receiving elective tubal sterilization is "incompatible with the concept of health care justice." They urge obstetricians to advocate for changing the policy, noting that its continued enforcement means that access to the procedure "differs from that of men, and entails increased clinical risks of unwanted pregnancy based on source of payment."

Study Evaluates Assessing Gestational Age Via Last Menstrual Period for Medical Abortion

May 29, 2015

In this research review, researchers found that women's reported last menstrual period serve as adequate indicators of gestational age for providing medication abortion, which possibly reduces the need of an ultrasound to confirm GA. They encourage further research into using LMP as an indicator of GA, "[g]iven the potential benefits of omitting the screening ultrasound in decreasing the cost of abortion, enhancing comfort and efficiency, and ultimately increasing access to the service."

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