More US ob-gyns are providing abortion

The quality of abortion care depends on all people being able to receive safe and timely care. A national survey conducted in 2016-17 found that the percentage of U.S. ob-gyns who provide abortion rose from 14% in 2009 to 24%. The minority of ob-gyns providing abortion does not match the reported need—72% reported having a patient within the past year who needed or wanted abortion care.

ANSIRH, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Ibis Reproductive Health, and the California Pacific Medical Center conducted the survey from a sample of ACOG members. Participants who saw patients of reproductive age were asked which methods of abortion they practiced. They found that roughly 10% provided both surgical and medication abortion, 9% surgical only, and 4% medication only. The most common reasons given for not providing medication abortion were personal beliefs against abortion, practice restrictions and office staff attitudes.

The survey also demonstrated that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restrictions on the provision of medication abortion are a significant barrier to expanding access. Eleven percent of ob-gyns in the survey said that the requirement to stock the medication in their clinic was a reason why they did not provide the abortion pill, and 28% of those not providing said they would start offering medication abortion if they could write a prescription for the drug.

State abortion regulations, federal laws restricting how clinicians provide medication abortion, providers’ personal beliefs, and practice and community factors impact the availability and quality of abortion services. Expanding opportunities for training and development and reversing restrictive policies at the state and federal levels may help improve the quality of abortion care.