While the debate over abortion remains one of the most vitriolic political battles in the U.S., a new survey finds that the percentage of obstetricians and gynecologists willing to provide the service may be dropping.
A study published in the science journal Obstetrics and Gynecology last week found that while 97 percent of OB-GYNs have encountered patients seeking an abortion, only 14 percent are willing to perform them, a drop from a reported 22 percent in 2008.
Religious belief, unsurprisingly, was one of the key factors for doctors unwilling to provide abortion services to patients. The survey, conducted among 1,144 OB-GYNs by researchers at Duke University and the University of Chicago, also uncovered several other trends of doctors willing to perform abortions: female physicians are more likely to provide abortions, as are younger doctors (age 35 and below) and those based in urban areas. OB-GYNs in the South were found to be least likely to offer abortion services.
The survey did not require respondents to disclose whether they referred patients to other physicians willing and able to provide abortion. According to the authors of the study, however, “previous research has shown that substantial minorities of physicians do not believe they are obligated to refer patients for or provide information about how to obtain procedures to which the physician has a religious or moral objection.”