Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) have limited access to medication abortion due to cultural stigmas relating to conversations about sexual and reproductive health.
In a first-of-its-kind study by nonprofits National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Ibis Reproductive Health, researchers found that a majority of AANHPIs do not know where to seek reproductive health information nor how to access medication abortion.
The study featured a sample of 1,500 U.S. and foreign born AANHPI participants of reproductive age between 16 and 49 years old as well as 90 in-depth interviews and 17 focus group discussions with AANHPI women between 18 and 49 years old.
According to researchers, 47% of respondents said they did not know where to access medication abortion, while another 40% said they had no prior knowledge about the safety of the procedure.
Around a third of respondents — mostly foreign-born — also noted that they had not heard of medication abortion at all.
“A lot of this stuff isn’t new, it just becomes more glaring,” said Isra Pananon Weeks, interim executive director of NAPAWF, according to The Guardian.
According to researchers, participants often contributed their lack of knowledge on the topic to cultural taboos.
“Some participants shared that they previously thought procedural abortions were the only available abortion method and had negative imagery associated with the procedure,” the report read. “Even with prior knowledge of MA (medication abortion), some qualitative participants lacked a clear understanding of the difference between MA and emergency contraception.”
Researchers found that about 37% of the participants’ barriers to accessing abortions were due to religious or moral concerns, while 35% were concerned about the abortion method.
A third of participants also admitted to being told not to have an abortion by someone close to them.
The study also concluded that access to in-language abortion services needs to be increased to raise awareness of abortion care among AANHPIs.