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The Washington Independent

Study: Small percentage of OB/GYNs provide abortions

A new study published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology journal reveals that the proportion of practicing obstetrician-gynecologists

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Aug 23, 2011

A new study published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology journal reveals that the proportion of practicing obstetrician-gynecologists (ob/gyn) in the U.S. who provide abortions is lower than what has been estimated in previous research. Researchers discovered that out of 1,800 ob/gyns surveyed, 97 percent have encountered patients seeking abortion, but only 14 percent performed the procedure.

The researchers identified demographic trends shared among ob/gyns more inclined to perform abortions:

  • Female (18.6 percent, compared with 10.6 percent of men)
  • Younger doctors (ages 26 to 35)
  • Ob/gyns living in the Northeast or West
  • Ob/gyns living in “highly urban postal codes”
  • Jewish doctors (40 percent of Jewish-identified ob/gyns said they would perform abortions, compared with 1 percent of evangelicals; the vast majority of doctors who identify as Catholic or who have a “high religious motivation” overwhelmingly said they would not perform abortions)

The journal’s researchers surveyed 1,800 practicing ob/gyns and obtained responses from 1,100 of them. According to the report, doctors were asked whether they had encountered patients seeking abortions and whether they provided abortion services.

Access to abortion is most limited in rural communities and in the South and Midwest, the study found, and this access remains limited by “the willingness of physicians to provide abortion services.”

The American Independent previously reported on a growing movement in the anti-abortion rights medical community to steer medical students entering the ob/gyn field away from providing abortions in their practices. Earlier this year, legislation at the state and federal level was introduced to prevent public money from funding abortion training, even at public universities or health centers. A federal bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in May would ban health centers from using federal funds for medical training of procedures such as dilation and curettage, which can be used as an abortion method but is also a diagnostic gynecological procedure. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April signed into law a bill that prevents state colleges from funding medical residency programs that offer abortion training with state or federal money.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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