Does distance decrease healthcare options for pregnant, incarcerated people? Mapping the distance between abortion providers and prisons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: Pregnant, incarcerated people retain the constitutional right to abortion, but evidence suggests that many cannot access abortion services. State and federal prisons are often located in remote areas and there is a known shortage of abortion providers across the U.S., particularly in remote areas. The goal of this study was to determine the proximity of state and federal prisons to the nearest abortion clinic. Study design: We used publicly available information to identify and geocode abortion clinics in the U.S., as well as state and federal prisons that house at least 10 females. We then determined the shortest distance between each prison and the abortion clinics within that state using the Google distance matrix API. For each state, we identified the minimum distance from a state or federal prison to an abortion clinic. Results: We georeferenced 643 abortion clinics, 75 state prisons and 20 federal prisons. The farthest minimum distance between a state prison and abortion clinic was 383 miles; the shortest was 2.2 miles. The farthest minimum distance between a federal prison and abortion clinic was 117 miles; the shortest was 0.49 miles. There were 8 states in which the minimum distance between any prison and an abortion clinic was above 75 miles. Conclusion: State and federal prisons are not located in close proximity to abortion clinics. This may pose an additional barrier pregnant incarcerated people face when they need abortion care. Implications: Distance between prisons and abortion clinics may contribute to the many barriers that incarcerated people face when seeking an abortion. Policies and laws that exacerbate the burden of distance further impair incarcerated people's abilities to access abortion and prisons’ constitutional obligation to provide access to abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-272
Number of pages7
JournalContraception
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Abortion
  • Abortion clinic
  • Incarceration
  • Map
  • Prison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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