Missouri’s Abortion law: Access to care for Patients with Lethal Fetal Anomalies at a Midwest Tertiary care Center

Leilah D. Zahedi-Spung, Bridget C. Huysman, Tessa Madden, Michael Bebbington, Nandini Raghuraman, Molly Stout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Missouri passed an 8-week gestational age abortion in August 2019. The objective of this study was to compare distance and time from referral to evaluation between patients who continued their pregnancy and those who terminated in patients with severe and lethal fetal anomalies and estimate the impact of the Missouri gestational age abortion ban on distance to abortion care in this patient population. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients seen at the Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) Fetal Care Center (FCC) with a severe or lethal fetal anomaly between July 2018 and June 2019. Patient characteristics including gestational age at referral and distance traveled to the FCC were compared between patients who underwent abortion and who continued their pregnancies. Results: From July 2018 to June 2019, 463 patients were seen in the Fetal Care Center and 13% (60/463) were diagnosed with severe or lethal fetal anomalies comprising the study population for this analysis. Of these, 21 (35%) patients underwent an abortion, and 39 (65%) patients continued their pregnancy. Patients who underwent abortion were referred at a significantly earlier gestational age (median 19 weeks [IQR 17, 20 weeks] v. 20 weeks [IQR 18, 24 weeks]), p = 0.04. There was a statistically significant difference between the median latency time between patients who underwent an abortion and who continued their pregnancy (median 8 days [IQR 4,13 days] v. 14 days [IQR 9, 22 days], p < 0.01). Conclusion: Patients with severe or lethal fetal anomalies are often evaluated at later gestational ages, which may preclude their access to abortion services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Abortion laws
  • Induced abortion
  • Lethal anomalies
  • Time-to-evaluation

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