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Survey: Barriers to abortion are common in Massachusetts

Mifepristone, one of two FDA approved drugs that induce abortion.
Robin Marty
Mifepristone, one of two FDA approved drugs that induce abortion.

A survey conducted by Tides for Reproductive Freedom, a Massachusetts organization that helps people pay for abortions, has found that about 40% of those who could get an abortion in the state don't know where they're available.

That’s just one of the barriers the group discovered in a new survey of approximately 1,000 people who could give birth.

The survey found that arranging logistics, like transportation to an appointment, or time to recover after an operation are significant hurdles for abortion patients.

Those in rural areas, including in western Mass., are less likely to know where to get an abortion or to know that OB/GYNs provide abortion services, the survey found.

People who are considering an abortion in Mass. also continue to face negative attitudes from the media, religious leaders and their loved ones said Tides for Reproductive Freedom, Co-Executive Director of Feyla McNamara.

The survey found that more than two-thirds of those considering abortion experienced stigma in their communities McNamara said, and that impacts whether or not they access abortion care.

"One of the top things that we think needs to be addressed in this state — comprehensive sex education that includes [the topic of] abortion," McNamara said, teaching about what it looks like to seek an abortion, "what would happen if you had a medical abortion versus a surgical abortion,” McNamara added.

Less than half of the people surveyed knew that abortion funds exist and can pay for patients to get abortions and help them get to their appointments, McNamara said.

The survey did find that in Massachusetts, public support remains high for abortion to remain legal and accessible.

Tides for Reproductive Freedom was formed in 2022 as an abortion fund led by people who have had abortions and are Black, Indigenous and part of the LGBTQ community.

Dusty Christensen is an investigative reporter based in western Massachusetts. He currently teaches news writing and reporting at UMass Amherst.

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