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Presentation: 5:47

Poster attached as supplemental file below


Access to safe abortions is a public health issue. Although prior research has looked at telemedicine and decreasing unnecessary testing to improve access, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted access further. Organizations have introduced guidelines that implement the prior research to improve access while protecting from the virus. The objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of providers’ experiences during COVID-19 surrounding abortion services. The Society of Family Planning interviewed providers from family planning clinics across the nation on how the pandemic affected family planning. This study performed a secondary qualitative analysis on these interviews focusing specifically on abortion services. Interview transcripts were analyzed using directed content analysis, including open coding to identify key ideas, codebook development, and codebook refinement. Twenty percent of the transcripts were double-coded to ensure coding accuracy. The codes were then organized to inform the development of an explanatory model. Interviews identified important barriers and supports providers experienced on multiple levels. Interviews highlighted providers individual frustration, confusion, and pride; their interpersonal team cohesiveness; how the new guidelines affected the organization of medication abortions, and institutional and state policies that either supported or created a barrier to abortion services. For providers overall, the pandemic resulted in increased frustration during an already stressful time. These findings demonstrate inadequacy of provider trainings, implementation of new guidelines, and policies supporting abortion services that stakeholders may consider to improve access to abortion services in the future.