Research Projects

Evidence-Based Policy Making: The Role of Experts in Reproductive Health Legislation in Wisconsin

State legislative committee hearings provide a primary venue for public participation in the policymaking process. In addition to providing legislators a gauge of public sentiment on particular bills, these hearings are also one of the few opportunities for experts to educate legislators on issues. This study examines who testifies in committee hearings on bills concerning reproductive health in Wisconsin and documents the barriers to providing testimony by experts in this field.

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Project Team

Daniela Mansbach  Daniela Mansbach, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Alisa Von Hagel  Alisa Von Hagel, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Rachel Dyer  Rachel Dyer, MS, Research Assistant

Emma Romell  Emma Romell, Research Assistant

Wisconsin state capitol

Examining the Impacts of State-Level Variation in Counseling and Waiting Periods on Racial/Ethnic and Nativity Disparities in Reproductive Health: Estimates for the 21st Century

Previous studies find that lengthening mandatory waiting periods and increasing the required number of in-person counseling sessions for abortion leads to increases in the share of 2nd trimester abortions and may decrease the rate of abortions overall. However, little is known about the impacts of these policies on the full spectrum of reproductive health outcomes—particularly among marginalized groups.

To address these knowledge gaps, this research project examines the impacts of state-level variation in required counseling and waiting periods for abortions on racial/ethnic and nativity disparities in reproductive health outcomes. Using rigorous legal epidemiology methods, we create a comprehensive historical database of these abortion-related policies and integrate it with nationally representative data on women’s health and birth-related outcomes.

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Project Team

Tiffany Green   Tiffany Green, PhD, Principal Investigator

Ellen Thu Ha Hickman, Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Molly Herbson, Research Assistant, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Orlando Lopez-Fernandez, Research Assistant, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Woman looking to the side

Impacts of Access to Contraception and Abortion Services on Men’s Life Course Outcomes

The life course impacts of contraceptive and abortion access for women as well as the next generation are well documented. Much less research has explored the impacts of these developments for men. This project estimates the effects of access to contraception and abortion on adult men’s outcomes.

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Project Team

Jason Fletcher  Jason Fletcher, PhD, Principal Investigator

Margaret Carroll  Meg Carroll, Research Assistant

Joanna Venator  Joanna Venator, Research Assistant

Man buttoning suit

Impacts of Poverty Reduction on Achieving Reproductive Health: Leveraging Findings from the Baby’s First Years Study

This project expands an existing study, Baby’s First Years, which estimates the effects of an unconditional cash gift of $4,000 a year for low-income mothers, to include more content on reproductive dignity. Adding this content will create an opportunity to understand the extent to which economic resources affect mothers’ ability to obtain the types of services and contraception they want, as well as more generally their ability to act in accordance with their own reproductive goals.

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Project Team

Katherine Magnuson headshot   Katherine Magnuson, PhD, Principal Investigator

Molly Costanzo   Molly Costanzo, Research Assistant

Elizabeth Premo   Elizabeth Premo, Research Assistant

Mother and baby

Patient and Provider Experiences with Medication Abortion in Wisconsin

No studies have examined medication abortion in light of 2012 Wisconsin legislation regarding the delivery of this healthcare service. This project uses mixed methods to document multiple types of providers’ experiences of medication abortion care delivery in Wisconsin and patients’ experiences of medication abortion on virtual, anonymous online communities.

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Project Team

Laura Jacques headshot   Laura Jacques, MD, Co-Principal Investigator

Jenny Higgins   Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, Co-Principal Investigator

Emma Carpenter   Emma Carpenter, PhD, MSW, Project Director

Barbara Alvarez   Barbara Alvarez, MLIS, Research Assistant

Taryn Valley   Taryn Valley, Research Assistant

   Natalie Weill, BSN-RN, MPA, Research Assistant

Physician Attitudes toward Abortion Access at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Physicians’ attitudes about health issues—including abortion—can affect public understanding and policy. Little research has assessed abortion-related attitudes and practices of physicians outside the reproductive health sphere. To address this gap, investigators surveyed all University of Wisconsin-Madison clinical faculty about their attitudes and knowledge about abortion.

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Project Team

Nicholas Schmuhl   Nicholas Schmuhl, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Cynthie Wautlet, MD   Cynthie Wautlet, MD, MPH, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Laurel Rice   Laurel Rice, MD, Co-Investigator

Jenny Higgins   Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, Co-Investigator

Publications

Wautlet, Schmuhl, Higgins, Zukin & Rice. Physician attitudes toward reproductive justice: results from an institution-wide survey Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2020;135:108s.

Eliza Bennett MD

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Access to Contraception in the Era of COVID-19

Black, indigenous, and other individuals of color are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have access to reproductive healthcare and desired contraception methods. It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in access to contraceptive methods, but little is known about how and why. To address this question, we use new data from an annual survey of Wisconsin residents to document racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-induced access to desired contraception and also explore the most salient drivers of these gaps.

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Project Team

Tiffany Green   Tiffany Green, PhD, Principal Investigator

Woman putting on a medical mask

Religious Restrictions on Reproductive Healthcare: Wisconsin Patient Perspectives

Religiously-owned hospitals, which­ may restrict critical reproductive health services, comprise a large share of hospitals in Wisconsin. However, little is known about how women experience care restrictions in religious health care settings.

In this study, we are fielding a population-representative survey of reproductive-aged women in order to understand Wisconsin patients’ preferences for and firsthand experiences with religious healthcare. We also include a sizeable sample of residents in rural communities, including those in which religious health care is the only feasible option for inpatient care.

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Project Team

Jenny Higgins  Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, Principal Investigator

Renee Kramer   Renee Kramer, MPH, Co-Investigator

   Lori Freedman, PhD, Consulting Co-Investigator

   Debra Stulberg, MD, Consulting Co-Investigator

Related Media

Related Publications by Co-investigators and Colleagues

Bearing faith: the limits of Catholic health care for women of color. New York, NY: Public Rights/Private Conscience Project and Public Health Solutions, Columbia Law School. January 2018.

Freedman, Hebert, Battistelli & Stulberg. Religious hospital policies on reproductive care: what do patients want to know? American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2018;218:251.e1-251.e9

Hill, Slusky & Ginther. Reproductive health care in Catholic-owned hospitals. Journal of Health Economics. 2019;65:48-62.

Stulberg, Guiahi, Hebert & Freedman. Women’s expectation of receiving reproductive health care at Catholic and non‐Catholic hospitals. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2019;51(3):135-142.

Wascher, Hebert, Freedman & Stulberg. Do women know whether their hospital is Catholic? Results from a national survey. Contraception. 2018;98(6):498-503.

Related Research Resources

Research Consortium on Religious Healthcare Institutions. Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California, San Francisco.

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Reproductive Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors in the Wisconsin Communication Ecology

While reproductive policies are a matter of intense debate by the current Wisconsin state legislature, we know very little about residents’ knowledge and attitudes in this policy area and how these matters connect to individuals’ political knowledge, preferences, and civic participation.

This study seeks to understand what Wisconsinites’ attitudes about reproductive policies are, how much they know about reproductive rights in their state, and what kinds of appeals are more likely to hold their attention, change their views, and spur them to action. The study includes panel surveys in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, and Ohio, and combines information from social media, news coverage, legislative behavior, and election data.

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Project Team

Michael Wagner   Michael Wagner, PhD, Principal Investigator

Jianing Li  Jianing Li, Research Assistant

Two people shouting at each other

Sexual Acceptability’s Role in Women’s Contraceptive Preference and Behavior

Many people are unsatisfied with their contraceptive method, and the majority discontinue their method after several months of use. A critical but understudied influence on contraceptive behavior is sexual acceptability, or contraception’s effects on sexuality.

This NIH-funded study (R01 HD095661-01) investigates sexual acceptability of six reversible contraceptive methods among approximately 2,000 new-start contraceptive users over time, with the ultimate goals of more satisfied and consistent contraceptive users and less frequent unwanted pregnancy.

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Project Team

Jenny Higgins   Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, Principal Investigator

Jessica Sanders   Jessica Sanders, PhD, MPH, Co-Investigator and Utah Site PI

   Bethany Everett, PhD, Co-Investigator

David Turok   David Turok, MD, MPH, Co-Investigator

Leigh Senderowicz   Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, Co-Investigator

Renee Kramer   Renee Kramer, MPH, Research Assistant

Kelsey Wright   Kelsey Wright, MPH, Research Assistant

Man and woman kissing

The Contraceptive Autonomy Project

Contraception is a transformative force for good when people choose it freely, but family planning has not been an emancipatory project for all people since its inception. Rather, family planning has been intertwined with a range of efforts to limit population and to decide what kind of people should see their fertility restricted.

Grounded in this history, this study aims to develop and pilot new metrics that focus on reproductive freedom rather than contraceptive uptake or fertility. Using a sequential mixed-methods study design, this project explores issues of contraceptive coercion and decision-making in global family planning.

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Project Team

Leigh Senderowicz   Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, Principal Investigator

Publications

Senderowicz. Contraceptive autonomy: conceptions and measurement of a novel family planning indicator. Studies in Family Planning. 2020. [Epub ahead of print]

Senderowicz. “I was obligated to accept”: A qualitative exploration of contraceptive coercion. Social Science & Medicine. 2019;239:112531.

Various contraceptive methods

Understanding Variation in the Ability to Detect Early Pregnancy

This study follows a diverse group of 4 million U.S. women who use a reproductive health app to track menstrual cycles, ovulation, and/or pregnancy, including women who are trying to avoid pregnancy. We examine menstrual cycle characteristics to understand variation in when women could possibly learn about pregnancy. This research investigates physiological barriers to learning about pregnancy early on—and in particular, physiological barriers that inhibit peoples’ ability to seek abortion in the presence of early gestation abortion bans.

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Project Team

Jenna Nobles   Jenna Nobles, PhD, Principal Investigator

Lindsay Cannon   Lindsay Cannon, MPH, MSW, Research Assistant

Pregnant woman

Undue Burden Beyond Texas: An Analysis of Abortion Clinic Closures, Births, and Abortions in Wisconsin

This study estimates the impacts of abortion clinic closures in Wisconsin on access to clinics in terms of distance and congestion, abortion rates, and birth rates.

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Project Team

Jason Fletcher  Jason Fletcher, PhD, Principal Investigator

Joanna Venator  Joanna Venator, Research Assistant

Publications

Venator and Fletcher. Undue burden beyond Texas: An analysis of abortion clinic closures, births, and abortions in Wisconsin. NBER Working Paper No. 26362. October 2019.

Closed clinic

Who Uses Reproductive Health Tracking Tools? Differences between Users and Non-Users and their Program and Policy Implications

Between one-quarter and one-third of reproductive-age women in the U.S. use reproductive health apps to track menstrual cycles, ovulation, and pregnancy. This study evaluates who uses these apps, why they use or do not use these apps, and how their health, pregnancy, and socioeconomic characteristics differ from those who do not. Understanding the difference between users and non-users is critical given the rapid expansion in efforts to:
– study early pregnancy among app users;
– use apps as a tool to help women avoid pregnancy;
– connect women with services early in pregnancy; and
– apply findings from app-based studies to healthcare referrals and policy environments.

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Project Team

Jenna Nobles   Jenna Nobles, PhD, Principal Investigator

Lindsay Cannon   Lindsay Cannon, MPH, MSW, Research Assistant

Woman using phone