Welcome to SSN’s 600th Member – and Her Research on the Realities of Abortion

Katrina Kimport, University of California, San Francisco

Dozens of states are debating and passing new laws restricting access to abortion or imposing elaborate routines on patients and doctors. Kimport’s research looks at how women scheduled for abortions respond to viewing ultrasounds, and finds results at odds with what clashing advocates presume. 

In her new Key Findings brief, Kimport summarizes research conducted with colleagues to assess the experiences of patients and staff members at an abortion clinic that offered ultrasound viewing. Eighteen states require that women be offered the chance to view an ultrasound image before undergoing abortions, and five states actually mandate that women must be shown these images whether or not they want to see them. Opponents of abortion believe that simply viewing ultrasound images will change women’s plans to terminate pregnancies, but Kimport and her colleagues found that viewing made a difference only for a tiny proportion of women who said they previously felt uncertain. In 15,000 cases, 99% of the women went ahead whether or not they viewed an ultrasound. Laws are unhelpful, Kimport concludes, because forcing women to view images can spark resentment – and almost all abortion clinics offer the option anyway.

Katrina Kimport studies issues of reproductive health and justice as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. In addition to her recent work on preabortion ultrasound viewing, she has also investigated post-abortion emotional reactions and depictions of abortion in popular media. Kimport also conducts research on same-sex marriage and social movements pushing for abortion rights and marriage equality.

July 2015