Many Rural Women Lack Access to Abortions
WebMD News Archive
Of the 707 providers who responded, only 1.2% reported that
they performed first-trimester abortions. These eight providers (five men and
three women) had been in practice an average of 19 years and devoted most of
their practices to women's reproductive health care. Seven were family
physicians or obstetrician-gynecologists, says Dobie.
Of those who did not offer abortions, nearly 70% of the
physicians in ob/gyn and family medicine practices listed community opposition
as a reason, and 65% listed personal moral objections.
Of the 459 respondents who said they would not prescribe
abortion drugs, 45% cited moral objections and 20% cited inadequate training,
information, or support. But a fourth of the rural physicians indicated they
would consider providing medical, rather than surgical, abortions.
"I think it's wonderful that someone has had the courage
and responsiveness to examine this issue, in preparation for a time when RU-486
may become more widely available," Roger Rochat, MD, visiting professor in
the department of epidemiology at Emory University's Rollins School of Public
Health in Atlanta, tells WebMD.
"But also, she's examining the generic problem of abortion
services. I'm amazed that so many people think that abortion and family
planning are widely available in the U.S., and yet it's very clear that people
have difficulty getting access to both of them -- and with abortion, even more
so," says Rochat, who was not involved in the study.
As with midwives who perform deliveries, nurse practitioners or
physician assistants should be allowed to prescribe abortion medications only
if there is professional medical support, Rochat says. "There's going to be
that rare event ... where you need physician backup."
- A study in Washington state has found that few rural health care providers
are providing abortions, with many citing community opposition and personal
- But many providers indicated they might be willing to offer the abortion
pill, known as RU-486, if it is approved by the FDA.
- Among nurse practitioner and physician assistants, who are allowed to
prescribe medications in some states, there was also a clear interest in
providing the abortion pill to patients.