Study by UW CORE researchers published in Contraception

A new study in Contraception uses data from a survey of UW School of Medicine and Public Health physicians to assess physician support for abortion access and abortion providers. The study also examines physicians’ perceptions of their peers’ attitudes towards abortion and abortion providers.

Physician attitudes about abortion and their willingness to consult in abortion care at a Midwestern academic medical center, by Nicholas Schmuhl, PhD, Laurel Rice, MD, Cynthia Wautlet, MD, and Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, found faculty who were surveyed have strong support for abortion. In addition, 84% of respondents reported at least “a little” support for the efforts of faculty who provide abortion services.

While respondents reported a high level of support themselves for abortion services and abortion providers, they estimated a lower level of support among their peers. For example, 62% of physicians reported “a lot” of support for abortion access, but only 21% estimated the same level of support from their peers.

“Our findings have implications for abortion care access and quality in Wisconsin, as well as professional quality of life for physicians who directly and indirectly participate in abortion care. While these results should encourage supporters of comprehensive abortion rights, the climate surrounding abortion at our institution could improve. Self-reports portrayed a highly supportive environment surrounding abortion, while physicians perceived a more muted climate of support among their fellow faculty. Our findings demonstrate that these misperceptions have tangible consequences for access and quality of abortion care, as physicians who estimated relatively lower support among peers were less willing to consult in abortion-related cases. This discrepancy was greatest among specialties commonly associated with abortion care.”

Read the whole study here.