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Few obstetricians and gynecologists perform abortions

August 23, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Only 14% of obstetricians and gynecologists perform abortions, according to a new survey
Only 14% of obstetricians and gynecologists perform abortions, according… (Susan Tibbles / For The Times )

Obstetricians and gynecologists are trained as women's health specialists. But only 14% provide abortions.

The nationwide survey of 1,144 ob-gyns published Monday found a lower rate of abortion providers than a 2008 survey did, which put the figure at 22%.

Other doctors, such as family practice physicians, may also provide abortions. And there is some evidence that the number of ob-gyns willing to provide abortions may increase in the future. The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Duke University, found that younger doctors, ages 35 or younger, were the most likely to perform abortions, compared with other age groups.

Female physicians were more likely to provide abortions than were male physicians, 18.6% compared with 10.6%. Ob-gyns in the South were the least likely to offer abortions. Although almost 35% of the respondents were from the South, only 8.2% said they provided the service.

A 2010 opinion paper from the ethics committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argued that ob-gyns are obligated to refer their patients to abortion providers if they do not offer the service themselves. But that paper was met with controversy, according to the authors of the new survey.

". . .previous research has shown that substantial minorities of physicians do not believe they are obligated to refer patients for or provide information about how to obtain procedures to which the physician has a religious or moral objection," they wrote.

The study appears in the current issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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