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Perceived barriers to abortion care among practicing obstetricians and gynecologists

Tegan Hunter, SB, University of Miami

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of United States abortion-providing facilities declined by 3%, and as of 2014, 90% percent of all U.S. counties lacked an abortion clinic. This lack of clinics increases the costs associated with obtaining abortion care, and the distance many women must travel in order to access abortion services. In 2011, a national survey found that while 63% of practicing Obstetrician Gynecologists (Ob/Gyn) participated in abortion training in residency, only 22% had performed abortions in the last year. A number of factors including targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP laws), fear of harassment, individual institutional policies, lack of staff support, personal beliefs, and social and community pressure are believed to reduce a provider's willingness to provide abortion services. Here we explore these factors, to identify why providers are deciding not to offer abortion services.

In the 1990s, several small studies targeting specific physician populations were performed to determine what factors influenced whether or not a physician chose to perform abortions in their practice. Since then, legal, medical, and cultural changes have altered the factors that influence abortion services. We propose conducting a pilot survey of Obstetrician Gynecologists and nurses working in an Ob/Gyn practice setting at our institutions to identify their perceived barriers to providing abortion services. By identifying these barriers, we hope to understand ways to support providers as they make the decision if and when to provide abortion care, and to allow for more targeted efforts to increase abortion access.


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