SRHR Policies

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    Legal and policy responses to the delivery of abortion care during COVID-19
    (International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2020-09-15) Romanis, Elizabeth Chloe; Parsons, Jordan A.
    Access to abortion care has long been a global challenge, even in jurisdictions where abortion is legal. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated barriers to access, thereby preventing many women from terminating unwanted pregnancies for an extended period. In this paper, we outline existing and COVID-specific barriers to abortion care and consider potential solutions, including the use of telemedicine, to overcome barriers to access during the pandemic and beyond. We explore the responses of governments throughout the world to the challenge of abortion access during the pandemic, which are an eclectic mix of progressive, neutral, and regressive policies. Finally, we call on all governments to recognize abortion as essential healthcare and act to ensure that the law does not continue to interfere with providers’ ability to adapt to circumstances and to guarantee safe and appropriate care not only during the pandemic, but permanently.
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    State policymaking and stated reasons: prenatal care for undocumented immigrants in an era of abortion restriction
    (The Milbank Quarterly, 2021-06-24) Fabi, Rachel E.; Saloner, Brendan; Taylor, Holly
    Policy Points: States can create policies that provide access to publicly funded prenatal care for undocumented immigrants that garner support from diverse political coalitions. Policymakers have used a wide range of moral and practical reasons to support the expansion of care to this population, which can be tailored to frame prenatal policies for different stakeholder groups. Context: Even though nearly 6% of citizen babies born in the United States have at least one undocumented parent, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most public health insurance. Prenatal care is a recommended health service that improves birth outcomes, and some states, including both traditionally “blue” and “red” states, have opted to provide publicly funded coverage for prenatal services for people who are otherwise ineligible due to immigration status. This article explores how courts and legislatures in three states have approached the question of publicly funded prenatal care for undocumented immigrants and its relationship to the abortion debate, with a particular focus on the moral and practical justifications that policymakers employ. Methods: We employed a review and qualitative analysis of the documents that comprise the legislative histories of prenatal policies in three case states: California, New York, and Nebraska. Findings: This review and analysis of policy documents identified moral reasons based on appeals to different conceptions of moral status, respect for autonomy, and justice, as well as prudential reasons that appealed to the health and economic benefits of prenatal care for US citizens and legal residents. We found that much of the variation in reasons supporting policies by state can be traced to the state's position on the protection of reproductive rights and whether the policymakers in each state supported or opposed access to abortion. Interestingly, despite these differences, the states arrived at similar prenatal policies for immigrants. Conclusions: There may be areas where policymakers with different political orientations can converge on health policies affecting access to care for undocumented immigrants. Future research should explore the reception of various message frames for expanding public health insurance coverage to immigrants in other contexts.
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    The access paradox: abortion law, policy and practice in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia
    (International Journal for Equity in Health, 2019-09-27) Blystad, Astrid; Haukanes, Haldis; Tadele, Getnet; Haaland, Marte E. S.; Sambaiga, Richard; Zulu, Joseph Mumba; Moland, Karen Marie
    Introduction: Unsafe abortion is a major contributor to the continued high global maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Legal abortion frameworks and access to sexuality education and contraception have been pointed out as vital to reduce unsafe abortion rates. This paper explores the relationship between abortion law, policy and women’s access to safe abortion services within the different legal and political contexts of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia. The research is inspired by recent calls for contextualized policy research. Methods: The research was based in Addis Ababa (Ethiopa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Lusaka (Zambia) and had a qualitative exploratory research design. The project involved studying the three countries’ abortion laws and policies. It moreover targeted formal organizations as implementers of policy as well as stakeholders in support of, or in opposition to the existing abortion laws. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with study participants (79) differently situated vis-à-vis abortion, exploring their views on abortion-related legal- and policy frames and their perceived implications for access. Results: The abortion laws have been classified as ‘liberal’ in Zambia, ‘semi-liberal’ in Ethiopia and ‘restrictive’ in Tanzania, but what we encountered in the three study contexts was a seeming paradoxical relationship between national abortion laws, abortion policy and women’s actual access to safe abortion services. The study findings moreover reveal that the texts that make up the three national abortion laws are highly ambiguous. The on-paper liberal Zambian and semi-liberal Ethiopian laws in no way ensure access, while the strict Tanzanian law is hardly sufficient to prevent young women from seeking and obtaining abortion. In line with Walt and Gilson’s call to move beyond a narrow focus on the content of policy, our study demonstrates that the connection between law, health policy and access to health services is complex and critically dependent on the socio-economic and political context of implementation. Conclusions: Legal frameworks are vital instruments for securing the right to health, but broad contextualized studies rather than classifications of law along a liberal-restrictive continuum are demanded in order to enhance existing knowledge on access to safe abortion services in a given context.
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    USA aid policy and induced abortion in sub-Saharan Africa: an analysis of the Mexico City Policy
    (The Lancet. Global health, 2019-08-01) Brooks, Nina; Bendavid, Eran; Miller, Grant
    Background: The Mexico City Policy, first announced by US President Ronald Reagan and since lifted and reinstated by presidents along partisan lines, prohibits US foreign assistance to any organisation that performs or provides counselling on abortion. Many organisations affected by this policy are also providers of modern contraception. If the policy reduces these organisations' ability to supply modern contraceptives, it could have the unintended consequence of increasing abortion rates. Methods: We empirically examined patterns of modern contraception use, pregnancies, and abortion among women in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in response to the reinstatement and subsequent repeal of the Mexico City Policy across three presidential administrations (William Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama). We combine individual-level data on pregnancies and abortions from 743 691 women, country-year data on modern contraception use, and annual data on development assistance for family planning and reproductive health in a difference-in-difference framework to examine relative changes in use of modern contraception, pregnancy, and abortion in response to the policy. Findings: We found that when the Mexico City Policy was in effect (2001-08), abortion rates rose among women in countries highly exposed to the policy by 4·8 abortions per 10 000 woman-years (95% CI 1·5 to 8·1, p=0·0041) relative to women in low-exposure countries and relative to periods when the policy was rescinded in 1995-2000 and 2009-14, a rise of approximately 40%. We found a symmetric reduction in use of modern contraception by 3·15 percentage points (relative decrease of 13·5%; 95% CI -4·9 to -1·4; p=0·0006) and increase in pregnancies by 3·2 percentage points (relative increase of 12%; 95% CI 1·6 to 4·8; p<0·0001) while the policy was enacted. Interpretation: Our findings suggest that curbing US assistance to family planning organisations, especially those that consider abortion as a method of family planning, increases abortion prevalence in sub-Saharan African countries most affected by the policy. Funding: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Stanford Earth Dean's Fellowship.
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    Activist framing of abortion and use for policy change in Peru
    (Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 2019-04-09) Beavin, Cynthia; Billings, Deborah L.; Chávez, Susana
    Identifying how activists frame the topic of abortion is key to unpacking their understanding of “abortion” in Peru. It is important to explore how and why certain frames are privileged in attempts to shift policy and social norms. In 2016, the authors conducted qualitative interviews with 10 activists in Lima, Peru to develop a deep understanding of these issues. Activists worked through different approaches and lenses, including law, medicine, sociology, psychiatry, journalism, non-governmental organisational management, LGBTQ rights, and indigenous rights. Four common frames emerged through the analysis and those frames shifted based on whether activists were speaking to the general public or to policymakers. Understanding Peru's activist framing of abortion can contribute to a deeper analysis of regional and global movements to legalise abortion, which also take into account local specificities.