Elizabeth Gonzalez

San Joaquin Valley Women's Experiences Accessing Abortion Services in California

Since the 1973 United States Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision to legalize abortion, access to safe abortion services continues to be contested by conservative state legislators nationwide. Because of this, research is predominantly focused on the implications of abortion access in conservative states that tend to implement restrictive abortion legislation. Liberal states such as California are the exception to the national discourse of limited abortion access. California is known for it’s progressive abortion laws that appear exemplary over the limitations imposed by the majority of states. California is one of seventeen states to cover abortion care without limitations through their state-funded insurance, Medi-Cal, minors are not required to obtain parent permission to get care, nor does the state impose waiting periods or other requirements that tend to be obstacles to care, common in Southern states. However, while California’s progressive abortion laws may be on the books, the state’s large and diverse population and geography suggests that implementing them equitably can still be a considerable challenge.

Despite California’s liberal politics, the historically conservative San Joaquin Valley continues to have limited access to abortion services. The region is made up of nearly half Hispanic or Latinos, 36.5 percent non-Hispanic white, 4.6 percent Black, and 7.04 percent Asian (US Census, 2016) and has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. Currently, there are two abortion clinics in the San Joaquin Valley that provide medication and surgical abortions. This limited access potentially presents barriers to women seeking abortion care.

This qualitative research project will use in-depth semi-structured interviews to identify the social-cultural, economic, and geographic barriers to abortion access in the San Joaquin Valley, with a particular comparison approach among women of color and non-Hispanic whites.