Ushma Upadhyay

Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
Areas of Expertise:
  • Health Care Reform
  • Reproductive Health
  • Women

Connect with Ushma

About Ushma

Upadhyay’s work encompasses two overarching themes: the effects of women's empowerment and gender equity on reproductive health and improving reproductive health services for disadvantaged populations. Her methodological expertise is in quantitative analyses using epidemiologic and demographic methods. Upadhyay has lead several projects related to contraception and abortion that collectively aim to expand women's ability to determine the number and timing of their children and improve access to reproductive health services.


Women's Experience with a 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortion

  • Ushma Upadhyay



"Development and Validation of a Reproductive Autonomy Scale" (with Shari Dworkin, Tracy Weitz, and Diana Greene Foster). Studies in Family Planning 45, no. 1 (2014): 19-41.

Develops and validates a multidimensional instrument to measure “reproductive autonomy” or women’s ability to achieve their reproductive intentions. Provides researchers with a tool to assess women’s power regarding contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing, both domestically and globally.

"Denial of Abortion because of Provider Gestational Age Limits in the United States" (with Tracy Weitz, Rachel Jones, Rana Barar, and Diana Greene Foster). American Journal of Public Health 104, no. 9 (2014): 1687-1694.

Examines factors influencing delay in seeking abortion and the outcomes for women denied abortion care because of gestational age limits at abortion facilities. Finds that adolescents and women who did not recognize they were pregnant early were most likely to delay seeking care. Argues that the most common reason for delay was having to raise money for travel and procedure costs. Estimates that more than 4000 women a year are denied an abortion in the U.S. because of facility gestational limits and must carry unwanted pregnancies to term. 

"Incidence of Emergency Department Visits and Complications after Abortion" (with Sheila Desai, Vera Zildar, Daniel Grossman, Patricia Anderson, and Diana Taylor). Obstetrics and Gynecology 125, no. 1 (2015): 175-183.

Examines almost 55,000 abortions among women covered by the California Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, to estimate rate of complications from abortion, including complications diagnosed or treated at emergency departments (EDs).

"The Effect of Abortion on Having and Achieving Aspirational One-Year Plans" (with M. Antonia Biggs and Diana Greene Foster). BMC Women’s Health 15, no. 102 (2015).

Examines whether accessing abortion allows women to achieve personal life goals. Data are from the Turnaway Study, and compared 4 groups of women: women who were just over a facility’s gestational age limit, were denied an abortion and went on to parent the child; or did not parent; women who were just under a facility’s gestational age limit and received an abortion; and women who presented in the first trimester and received an abortion.

In the News

Ushma Upadhyay's research on abortion safety discussed in Teddy WilsonUshma Upadhyay, "There’s No Evidence That Abortion Is Dangerous. This Study Proves It.," Rewire.News, June 15, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted on abortion deserts in Teddy Wilson, "Where Anti-Choice Lawmakers are Elected, ‘Abortion Deserts’ Persist" Rewire.News, May 15, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted on abortion deserts in Annamarya Scaccia, "There are "Abortion Deserts" across the US, Research Finds, & They're a Threat to Public Health" Romper, May 14, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted on abortion access in Jackie Flynn Mogensen, "This Map Depicts Abortion Access across America and it’s Really Bleak" Mother Jones, May 15, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted in Auditi Guha, "New Hampshire Republicans: Ban Abortion Care at Eight Weeks" Rewire, February 1, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted in Amanda Marcotte, "War on Abortion’s New Phase: Mississippi Moves toward 15-Week Ban" Salon, February 6, 2018.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on Nicole WongUshma Upadhyay, "Campaign Launches to Increase Abortion Care at California Universities," New University, January 16, 2018.
"Kentucky’s New 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Have Serious Consequences," Ushma Upadhyay, Lexington Herald-Ledger, January 13, 2017.
Ushma Upadhyay quoted on restrictive abortion laws in Leigh Cuen, "Ohio Laws Intended to Protect Women Actually Made Abortion More Dangerous, Study Finds" Mic, August 31, 2016.
"We Need Abortion Laws Based on Science," Ushma Upadhyay, New York Times, August 30, 2016.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on abortion safety discussed in Kathryn DoyleUshma Upadhyay, "California Study Finds Abortion Complications Very Rare," Reuters, December 2014.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on the new requirements for medication abortions discussed in Molly ReddenUshma Upadhyay, "The War on Women is Over – and Women Lost," Mother Jones, Spetember 2015.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on turnaway data discussed in Annalee NewitzUshma Upadhyay, "New Study Sheds Light on What Happens to Women Who are Denied Abortions," Arts Technica, January 24, 2016.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on disparate access to reproductive health care discussed in Jenny KutneryUshma Upadhyay, "This is What Really Happens When Women are Denied Abortions," Mic, January 26, 2016.
Ushma Upadhyay's research on abortion complication rates discussed in Emma HinchliffeUshma Upadhyay, "Ken Paxton Mischaracterizes Abortion Risk in Texas," Politifact, March 4, 2016.