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Fam Plann Perspect. 1992 May-Jun;24(3):129-34.

Medically indigent women seeking abortion prior to legalization: New York City, 1969-1970.

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  • 1New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Erratum in

  • Fam Plann Perspect 1992 Jul-Aug;24(4):193.


If the efforts now underway to limit access to abortion services in the United States are successful, their greatest impact will be on women who lack the funds to obtain abortions elsewhere. There is little published information, however, about the experience of medically indigent women who sought abortions under the old, restrictive state laws. This article details the psychiatric evaluation of 199 women requesting a therapeutic abortion at a large municipal hospital in New York City under a restrictive abortion law. Thirty-nine percent had tried to abort the pregnancy. Fifty-seven percent had concrete evidence of serious psychiatric disorder. Forty-eight percent had been traumatized by severe family disruption, gross emotional deprivation or abuse during childhood. Seventy-nine percent lacked emotional support from the man responsible for the pregnancy, and the majority were experiencing overwhelming stress from the interplay of multiple problems exacerbated by their unwanted pregnancy.

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