High Demand, But Minority of Ob-Gyns Provide Abortions

Obstetrician-gynecologists with high religious motivation less likely to perform abortions

FRIDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States, 97 percent of practicing obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) encounter patients seeking abortions, but only 14 percent perform abortions, according to a study published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Debra B. Stulberg, M.D., from the University of Chicago, and colleagues estimated the proportion of ob-gyns practicing in the United States who meet patients wanting abortions, and the proportion who provide abortions. The extent to which providing abortion is associated with a physician's demographic and religious characteristics, and the religious affiliation of the facility in which the physician practices was also estimated. A total of 1,800 practicing ob-gyns were surveyed using a national probability sample mail survey.

The investigators found that 97 percent of ob-gyns encountered patients seeking abortions, but only 14 percent performed them. Female physicians had a higher likelihood of performing abortions than males (18.6 versus 10.6 percent, respectively; adjusted odds ratio, 2.54). Ob-gyns in the youngest age group, those in the Northeast or West, in highly urban postal codes, and who identified as being Jewish were also more likely to perform abortions. Physicians who were less likely to provide abortions included Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, non-Evangelical Protestants, and physicians with high religious motivation.

"The proportion of U.S. ob-gyns who provide abortions may be lower than estimated in previous research. Access to abortion remains limited by the willingness of physicians to provide abortion services, particularly in rural communities and in the South and Midwest," the authors write.

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