More and more doctors are unwilling to perform abortions, according to a recent survey, lowering the original percentage of those that were willing according to an alternate survey, 22%, down to 14% or one in seven. Although it is a legal medical practice in most locales, why is there the push back by medical practitioners? However, female specialists were about 2.5 times more likely than males to provide abortions, as were younger practitioners, ages 35 and under.

In the U.S., the demand for abortion is high, they said, given that half of pregnancies are unintended, and half of those end in abortion. More than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S.; in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill.

Religious objections may play a role, as may a reduction in training for the procedure in residency programs from the late 1970s through 1996. After that time, abortion training was required for residency.

From a strictly religious viewpoint, the study found that practitioners who identify as being Jewish were more likely to perform abortion, while Catholics and Evangelical Protestants, on the other hand, as well as physicians with high religious motivation, were less likely to offer the service.

Key variables that the researchers asked about included whether respondents had ever encountered patients seeking abortions in their practices, and whether they provided abortion services. Overall, 97% said they had encountered patients seeking abortions, but only 14.4% said they performed the service. However, those aged 56 to 65 were the next most likely group to provide abortions; those ages 35 to 45 were the least likely.

With more insight, the study states geography is a factor as well:

“Access to abortion remains limited by the willingness of physicians to provide abortion services, particularly in rural communities in the South and Midwest.”

In the Northeast or West, and in highly urban postal codes, were more likely to do the procedure than those in the South and Midwest or more rural areas, the researchers found. Many doctors choose to avoid being a target of antiabortion activists.

One caveat was that the recent study didn’t assess whether specialists who do not perform abortions refer their patients out to colleagues who do. The study was also limited by self report, and by the lack of anonymity involved in reporting and returning the survey.

It’s a growing trend among the United States for anti-abortion “protesters” to use intimidation tactics, or now even outright threats, to try to stop doctors from providing legal abortions to women. The intent is that if doctors can be scared out of providing abortions, more women will have to carry to term simply because they have no other safe options.

Abortion in the United States has been legal in every state since the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, on January 22, 1973. Prior to “Roe”, there were exceptions to the abortion ban in at least 10 states; “Roe” established that a woman has a right to self-determination (often referred to as a “right to privacy”) covering the decision whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, but that this right must be balanced against a state’s interest in preserving fetal life.

Written by Sy Kraft