Medication abortion among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders: Knowledge, access, and attitudes

May 30, 2023
  • Description

Almost no research to date examines abortion attitudes and knowledge among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) in the U.S. While previous research shows lower rates of abortion among Asian women compared to other racial ethnic groups, abortion rates vary by subgroups when disaggregating data by ethnicity or country of origin. In addition, no literature currently exists documenting AANHPI experiences with and/or use of medication abortion (MA).

To help address this research gap, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), in partnership with Ibis Reproductive Health, conducted a two-year study examining AANHPI people's knowledge of, access to, and attitudes about abortion, with a specific focus on medication abortion. While medication abortion accounts for over half of all abortions in the U.S., participants in this study described limited knowledge of abortion methods, including medication abortion.

Our study identified a range of barriers to medication abortion. For AANHPI communities, this includes community stigma towards abortion and sexual and reproductive health (SRH), a lack of family support, and the unavailability of language support for limited-English or non-English speaking patients at abortion clinics. Other barriers included the high cost of abortion care, lack of insurance coverage, limited appointment availability, lack of transportation, legal restrictions, longer wait times at the clinic, and protesters outside of clinics.

The taboo nature of SRH topics, including abortion, in addition to the general lack of openness among AANHPI community members impacts access to information and services related to their reproductive health. There is an overall need to provide accurate and culturally relevant information about all abortion methods to AANHPI communities to help bridge information gaps and overcome barriers to access.