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Working Paper

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Sterilization reversal, Sterilization of women, Healthcare disparities -- United States, Reproductive rights -- United States, Medical care -- Decision making -- Effect of race and ethnicity on


Purpose: Female sterilization rates and subsequent desire for reversal of the procedure are substantially higher in minorities, low-income women, and those who use public insurance. Despite the disproportionate distribution of these outcomes, few studies in this area have considered the extent to which such disparities are attributable to a restricted set of contraceptive options among medically underserved populations, which may in turn explain higher rates of desire for reversal. Methods: We use the most recent wave of NSFG data (2011-2013) to estimate odds ratios for race/ethnicity on the likelihood of desire for reversal of sterilization, while controlling for an array of factors that have been shown to negate or lessen the racial/ethnic association including age at sterilization, primary reason for sterilization, and insurance coverage, among others. Results: Outcomes indicate much higher odds of desire for reversal of sterilization among black and Latina women, despite the inclusion of a range of controls. Additionally, we find that rates are much higher in women who reported “single service or no insurance coverage” as well as those who cited “some other reason” (versus completion of desired childbearing) as the main reason for their sterilization. Conclusions: These findings are noteworthy and suggest that disadvantage seems to play an important role in desire for reversal of sterilization. Additional research in this area is needed in inform efforts to improve care and enhance the reproductive autonomy of medically underserved women.


Originally presented at the Population Association of America 2016 Annual Meeting, Washington DC, March 31-April 2, 2016.

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