Study Finds High Rates of Satisfaction With Abortion Care


Abortion opponents love to claim that abortion clinics and even abortions themselves hurt women. They invoke these evidence-free beliefs when proposing anti-abortion laws designed to “protect” women from themselves, clinics, and the supposed ramifications of the procedure. Pro-choice advocates are quick to point out study after study showing abortion is safe, and that the best science of the last several decades proves that abortion does not cause any mental health problems. This is accurate and useful data, but it turns out that we actually know little about what contributes to a positive abortion experience from an abortion patient’s perspective. Knowing what patients value and need from a clinic at the time of their abortion can help us make sure that abortion care is not only safe, but also patient-centered and provided in a compassionate manner.

Dr. Diana Taylor and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco recently published findings from a prospective, observational study to identify which patient experiences are associated with positive or negative clinic experiences. They also investigated if patient experiences were influenced by having a different type of health professional perform the abortion, such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants, in addition to physicians. Dr. Taylor and her colleagues recruited over 9,000 patients from 22 different abortion clinics in California to participate in the study, and asked them to complete a post-procedure patient experience survey.

What they found is pretty astounding: Nearly three-quarters of participants reported that their abortion experience was better than they expected. This speaks to both the high quality of care at abortion clinics and also to the stigmatization of abortion. Other studies show that patients may believe that abortion clinics are unsafe medical establishments, which may be why they rate their quality of care so highly—they were expecting to receive low-quality care.

Dr. Taylor and her team also found that more than 80 percent of participants rated their treatment by both clinicians and clinic staff as excellent, and found that there was not a statistically significant difference in patient satisfaction depending on the type of clinician who performed the procedure. Some demographic factors contributed to patient satisfaction—compared to 20- to 24-year-olds, 16- to 19-year-olds were less likely to report an excellent experience at a clinic, while women age 35 and over were more likely to report an excellent experience. Black and Hispanic women and those with multiple ethnic identities were more likely to report an excellent experience than non-Hispanic white women.

These socio-demographic data might suggest that it may be possible to anticipate patient experiences of abortion care based on certain patient characteristics, but actually, clinic-level factors have a much bigger impact on a patient’s experience. We need more qualitative data to understand why certain kinds of patients have slightly better experiences than others.

What’s amazing about this study is that it is the first one to identify these clinic-level factors that contribute to a positive abortion experience. The researchers discovered that the main contributors to women’s rating of their abortion care experience were treatment by the clinician performing the abortion, treatment by clinic staff, timeliness of care, and levels of pain during the abortion procedure. These are not issues that are unique to abortion care—improving these factors across the board in various health-care settings would likely improve patient satisfaction with their experience of health care. They also found that women’s satisfaction ratings did not change based on the type of clinician providing the abortion. This supports the growing body of evidence that physicians aren’t the only types of clinicians that can and should be performing abortion procedures.

With the mounting legislative regulation of abortion, it’s difficult to imagine a world in which we are working to improve abortion care quality instead of fighting to keep clinics open. But these concerns shouldn’t be prioritized one over the other. Roughly 1.2 million abortions occur in the United States every year, and we should do everything we can to maintain quality, which includes not just safety, but also patient-centered care.

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Follow Steph Herold on twitter: @StephHerold

  • Heil Mary 2

    You people are disturbed…there is NOTHING positive about abortion!!!

    • atheist mommy/Oma

      Then don’t have one if you feel that way. My abortion very positive for both me and my family!

    • Laurie Bertram Roberts

      Not having access to an abortion almost killed me, which would have left my children motherless. I would say yes there are positive things about abortion, Speak for yourself. I know many women who couldn’t be who they are if they hadn’t had their abortion. How dare you speak for them!

      • Heil Mary 2

        As a woman who was told that I would die if I didn’t abort I find your statement laughable…I gave birth to a healthy son with no problems.Women who use this excuse to abort are simply selfish human beings

        • Laurie Bertram Roberts

          I am so glad you know my experience better than I do. I didn’t assume to speak to you did I? I almost died because instead of giving me the abortion I needed the doctors sent me home where I almost bleed to death hemorrhaging from the incomplete miscarriage I was already having! I wasn’t selfish. I was carrying a nonviable non-proceeding pregnancy that needed to be terminated. The Catholic hospital I was at chose for me and my family and I almost died.
          They were selfish not me. They put their beliefs ahead of my rights, my family, and MY LIFE!
          So once again speak for yourself and YOUR experience you can’t speak for me. I don’t care why a woman aborts it’s none of your business.

        • cjvg

          So, where did you get your medical degree and have your obstetrics rotation?

        • cjvg

          However, your wife dies from the experience.
          But that was OK, you found a replacement fast by walking around as the helpless father with a cute newborn.

        • Arekushieru

          So, if you decide not to get chemotherapy in the hopes that your doctor *might* have been wrong to diagnose you with terminal cancer and you and it resolves on its own, are you going to tell all other women that cancer treatment is wrong because YOU survived? Of course not, you hypocritical MISOGYNIST. After all, it only matters if you can punish WOMEN with something and no other human population is affected. SICK.

        • Jennifer Starr

          And you’re simply an idiot talking crap. The fact that you chose to take the risk doesn’t mean other women should be forced to. Stop being such a selfish human being.

        • colleen2

          Please take your lies and your trailer trash sentiments elsewhere, progo.

        • belgianchic

          It’s selfish to not want to die? It’s selfish to make reproductive choices? No, what is selfish is imposing YOUR choices on EVERYBODY ELSE.

        • fiona64

          Actually, no. Oscar Wilde had the best definition of selfishness. “Selfishness does not consist in living as you wish; it consists in insisting that *others* live as you wish.”

          So, it seems to me that *you* are wearing the selfishness crown.

          • Arekushieru

            I see nothing wrong with being selfish. We are ALL selfish to some degree. But, what I find wrong is intentional selfishness and/or greed (which is what I ACTUALLY think Oscar Wilde was referring to). :)

          • Valde

            Everyone is expected to look out for #1

            EXCEPT PREGNANT WOMEN OF COURSE

            They are selfish and evil if they don’t put the fetus first at all times! Even if it kills them!

        • HeilMary1

          Well this HeilMary wishes she had been aborted to avoid a life of misery by abusive fetal idolaters.

      • HeilMary1

        HeilMary1 supports you. My pro-choice comments must have really riled the forced birther trolls if they are now using a nearly similar name.

    • Jennifer Starr

      You’re just a troll talking crap.

      • Valde

        Yeah, I wonder…

      • Heil Mary 2

        I don’t watch CNN.I get my news from MSNBC.And no I’m not stalking anyone…I’ve used this name for years on the prolife forum I moderate

        • Jennifer Starr

          And it just happens to be eerily similar to a pro-choice poster who frequently posts here–that’s just coincidence, right? I find that a little hard to believe.

          • HeilMary1

            Given that the Hail Mary is a popular prayer, not to mention a football maneuver, it shouldn’t be too surprising that other people would use it. It suited me with my first name being Mary and my comments often being religion- and feminist-related. The also apt German spelling seemed to add a little twist. Hell Mary is also a tempting variation. Various Disqus upgrades have forced me to remove the space and add a numeral. Perhaps the other Heil Mary added “2″ because, like me, she forgot passwords and had to alter the username with new passwords? But her timing is so suspicious.

        • Jennifer Starr

          Okay, let’s assume you might be telling the truth. Why the word ‘Heil’ instead of Hail in your name? And why the use of the number 2 if you weren’t aware of the similarity?

          • Ella Warnock

            She’s got no posting history under “her” name with Disqus.
            ::crickets chirping::

          • fiona64

            But she’s not stalking anyone … or trolling …

            Yeah, right.

        • colleen2

          I thi9nk we all understand that this is just another of your abusive personas. What a sad excuse for a human being you are, progo.

        • HeilMary1

          That’s odd! — I’ve been using a nearly identical name mostly on pro-choice sites. I use the Heil spelling because my family is part German.

          • Arekushieru

            Heh, part German, here, too. HM1! Guess which side of the war MY German Catholic GRANDFATHER fought on? If you said Allies, you are correct! And he had been an awesome advocate for black people for most of his life. He saw NO problem with a black person trying to reclaim the N word. If one of his children or us had ever used it, we would have been punished. Iow, he was much like you, HM. Both awesome people! :)

          • HeilMary1

            Your grandfather does sound awesome! I should have been in your family! — my mostly German dad grew up in Detroit, but opposed desegregation! In public, he would briskly run several feet ahead of me so no one would guess the ugly little red-skinned girl was his! My red skin was the new black skin to him! Maybe he opposed me getting plastic surgery so I wouldn’t pass for normal, similar to fair-skinned blacks who passed for white?

          • Arekushieru

            I don’t want to like this, because it’s just so horrifying what your family has put you through. Can I just say I wish you had been a part of my family, instead? In fact, if you don’t mind, I’d even like to name you an honorary cousin! :D

          • HeilMary1

            Thanks, cousin! You’re a much better cousin than all my blood cousins on both sides!

          • Arekushieru

            You’re welcome, cousin! :)

        • HeilMary1

          What “prolife” forum would that be?

          • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

            Googled her name, couldn’t find anything.

          • Jennifer Starr

            I think it definitely was an attempt at trolling–notice how the fake HM went running for the hills as soon as her lies were exposed.

          • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

            Yup!

      • HeilMary1

        LOL! Thanks for noticing that H M 2 isn’t HM1! I don’t have working internet at home and didn’t know till now that I had an angry impersonator starting trouble in my absence.

        • Laurie Bertram Roberts

          I thought that was a strange name for a forced birther lol

        • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

          ANYONE who would think that’s an idiot!!! You go girl, LOVE your comments, you take NO BS! LOVE you name BTW!

          • HeilMary1

            Thanks for getting my name! — on forced birther sites, I get called a Nazi for simply using the German spelling of Hail, yet those same fetal idolaters love quoting Nazi-supporting clergy to back up their “pro-life” endangerment of us already born “unworthies”.

          • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

            Of course your the Nazi for supporting the choices of all women, even black people! As far as I am concerned, they only want more pretty white non-hispanic babies! The rest of us who they don’t want can go die somewhere! I have read some of your comments about your childhood and LOVE that you get your story out!

          • HeilMary1

            Thanks! I used to think I was the only bad luck bad Catholic who wasn’t trying hard enough. Learning about Munchausen by Proxy abuse and attending many public hearings on human radiation experiments back in the 1990s were very eye-opening in seeing how the same mostly white rich Christian male “patriots” were abusing millions of women, children, elderly, disabled, and military enlisted whites and non-whites around the globe through harmful secret government programs. At the hearings, I met “disposable” downwind radiated people from the Marshall Islands, our Southwest uranium mines, farms near atomic test sites, military brat “guinea pigs”, mothers fed radioactive iron by Vanderbilt University while pregnant, and New England orphans fed radioactive cereal. While non-whites were the main target, complacency by whites was foolish. Marshall Island women suffered high miscarriage, still birth and birth defect rates, and described their misshapen dead offspring as looking like various fruits and vegetables. And yet anti-choice Phyllis Schlafly famously crowed that “The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” Schlafly and her ilk have no business shaming abortion patients who are directly defending themselves, as opposed to our military weapons billionaires who are merely testing their toxic toys.

          • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

            Of course. Could you tell us (again) how your ‘loving catholic family’ stood by you? Oh, and how is my grammar/spelling, I have been schooled by the baybee lover’s!

            ETA: you should also make a blog, I would be an avid follower!

    • HeilMary1

      Someone has stolen my name to sabotage my pro-choice comments!

  • Heil Mary 2

    I am not a troll nor do I live in a trailer….I stand by my statements…anybody who believes abortion to be a positive thing is a disturbed individual.I was told to abort…they said my son had a condition incompatible with life…I chose to carry him to term..turns out they were wrong and I have never regretted rejecting medical advice…I would do it again

    • Jennifer Starr

      If you wish to risk your life or carry a potentially doomed fetus to term that’s your decision and your right. Please allow other women to make their own decisions.

    • Valde

      Currently 55% of americans support abortion rights, so by that logic, over 100million people are ‘disturbed individuals’

      • cjvg

        well adjusted and pleasantly disturb I would say, people who have fetal induced suicidal drang are more in need of medication then those 55%

    • Ella Warnock

      Good for you. Glad it worked out the way you wanted it to. Don’t worry overly much about what other women choose. If they’re selfish, so what? How does that “selfishness” affect you? What does your story have to offer that any of us haven’t heard before, ad nauseum? Stand by your statements, yeah, knock yourself out; but you won’t change any of these ladies’ minds, because we know what true freedom is. Oh, and your user name isn’t weird or stalkerish at all. Just sayin’.

      • Heil Mary 2

        Seeing as how I’ve been using this name on the internet for several years now I fail to see why it would be weird

        • Ella Warnock

          M’kay. Whatevah you say.

          • Ella Warnock

            Aww, downvote (sad trombone). Butthurtness abounds.

        • Ella Warnock

          So, tell us again why you stomped in here waving your little fists and stomping your little feet in protest? Yeah, we know anti-choicers don’t like us, and you haven’t told us anything we haven’t heard a zillion times before. So what’s the point? I don’t go to anti-choice sites and stir a bunch of shit; it’s pointless. Kind of like everything you’ve said thus far.

        • fiona64

          Well, just because there’s a pro-choice poster here with a very similar handle … and none of us have seen you before … doesn’t mean it’s weird or stalkerish. ::nods::

    • fiona64

      And that was your choice. Other women in identical circumstances need not make the same decision.

    • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

      How nice that you had a CHOICE!

    • Arekushieru

      Also, choosing NOT to abort? …Doesn’t make you not Pro-Choice. HERP DERP.

  • HeilMary1

    And notice how the same people who support unregulated gun ownership for self-defense then turn around and deny medical self-defense by pregnant women? Sadly, when I was a brainwashed ignorant Catholic, I was clueless about how frequently deadly pregnancy is for women. But I kept meeting women who barely escaped pregnancy deaths and who suffered terrible permanent injuries. Finally, I connected my mother’s crazy abuse to pregnancy injuries forced on her by corrupt priests. Forced birthers ignore the big ugly picture.

  • Cade DeBois

    I know what contributed to my postive abortion experience:

    –accessibility
    –confidentiality
    –respect shown toward my choice, my life and my own understanding of my circumstances and my body

    I also am grateful t not have died a preventable death due to a problem pregnancy and that i had all the civilized options aviable to me to decided how to best care for myself and my body. Lastly I am immensely grateful that by being able to choose an abortion I was able to do exacty what my conscience and my intuition was telling me I needed to do and that it was my choice alone, as if should have been.

    What was the most negative part of my abortion experience? Being lied to, patronized, gaslighted, bullied and accused by pro-lifers who willingfully knew nothing abut the women they target or why we seek abortion. I also have not enjoyed having to put up with the avalanche of ignorance and assholery from pro-lifers about pregnancy and abortion. At the abortion clinc I was treated like person whose life, mind and choices mattered. To pro-lifers I’m just pawn in their hypocritical pseudo-morality game.

    • http://littlemisshaldol.tumblr.com/ LittleMissMellaril

      Really, being lied to was a bad experience, who knew?

  • fiona64

    One who pretends to be an adult living in the Netherlands, unless I miss my guess …

    • Jennifer Starr

      Think you might be right about that…