National Partnership for Women & Families

Monthly Women's Health Research Review

Researchers explore reasons why people seek alternative abortion care outside the formal health care system

Summary of "Beyond the clinic: preferences, motivations, and experiences with alternative abortion care in North America," Alison Ojanen-Goldsmith and Sarah Prager, Contraception, October 2016.

"Recent research from Texas found that self-provided and nonclinical abortions are on the rise, largely due to abortion restrictions," according to Alison Ojanen-Goldsmith and Sarah Prager, both of the University of Washington's Department of OB/GYN. However, they also noted that "[a]necdotal evidence from other abortion advocates suggests that some people seek alternative abortion methods for other reasons."

The researchers conducted "the first qualitative study with a geographically diverse North American sample to describe people's preferences, motivations and experiences with alternative abortion outside the formal health care system."


The researchers recruited 25 study participants "who had recently used or provided alternative abortion methods in North America to contribute in-depth interviews." During the interview, the researchers "asked participants to describe specific influential, logistical and experiential factors related to seeking and providing alternative abortion care."

The researchers also collected demographic data.


According to the researchers, study participants resided in areas "across the United States and Canada." They found that respondents "used a combination of methods early in the first trimester, with varying degrees of success."

The researchers noted that most respondents said they had previously received abortion care at a clinic, which they said "factored into their decision to seek alternative methods." According to the researchers, "Community-based abortion providers described providing safe and effective abortions and cited several barriers to obtaining an in-clinic abortion as reasons people sought their services."


Noting that "[p]eople use and provide alternative abortion methods for several reasons," the researchers said their study "can help advocates understand these emerging trends and inform future access to safe abortion care."