9 Ways to Reduce Barriers to Care in Rural Communities


In the United States, access to sexual and reproductive health care—including abortion—is often touted as a fundamental right. Yet, for many individuals living in rural communities, this right remains exclusive, overshadowed by numerous and daunting barriers that impede their ability to obtain essential care. Barriers to care include abortion bans, limited provider availability, cost of care, long wait times, confidentiality concerns, social barriers at the intersection of race and gender, and generational habits of not seeking care.


Reproductive justice includes rural communities! 14% of people in the U.S. live in rural areas, and they deserve access to reproductive healthcare, including stigma-free abortion care. As providers, you can play a role in empowering every person to exercise informed decision-making and access the options that are right for them.


Here are nine ways you or your organization can reduce barriers to care for people in rural areas:

  1. Education: Offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, including information about contraception, STI prevention, and abortion options.
  2. Culturally Competent Care: Provide culturally competent care that respects the diverse backgrounds and identities of patients. This includes being sensitive to cultural norms, beliefs, and values, as well as providing interpretation services for patients who speak languages other than English.
  3. Confidentiality and Privacy: Prioritize confidentiality and privacy in your interactions with patients, especially in small, tight-knit communities where privacy concerns may be heightened. Create a safe and supportive environment where patients feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues.
  4. Affordable and Accessible Services: To make services more affordable and accessible for patients, consider offering sliding-scale fees, accepting insurance plans, or partnering with organizations that provide financial assistance for abortion care.
  5. Telemedicine and Telehealth: Allow patients to access care remotely by offering virtual consultations, medication management, and counseling services via telehealth platforms.
  6. Collaborative Care Networks: Collaborate with other health and social service workers, community organizations, and advocacy groups to create a network of support for patients. By working together, you can leverage resources and expertise to address the unique needs of rural communities.
  7. Advocacy and Policy Engagement: Advocate for policies that support access to care in rural areas, including those that repeal restrictive abortion laws and expand funding for family planning services.
  8. Training and Continuing Education: Stay up-to-date on the latest evidence-based practices and guidelines. Continuing education opportunities can improve your clinical skills and knowledge to ensure that you provide high-quality care to patients.
  9. Story Sharing: Provider stories can be a powerful tool for engaging and educating your community. Use your platforms to raise awareness, dispel myths, and break down stigma. Contact us to share your story with Provide!


Together, we can create equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care for people in rural communities. By dismantling barriers and fostering inclusive, supportive environments, you can ensure that all individuals, regardless of where they live, have the resources and support they need to make informed decisions about their health.


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