New York, NY -- The number of U.S. medical-residency programs offering "routine" first- and second-trimester abortion training has increased forthe first time since the late 1970s.
A new study conducted by researchers from the National Abortion Federation and published in the November/December issue of the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives shows that the number of accredited U.S. OB/GYN residency programs offering routine training in first-trimester abortion nearly quadrupled between 1992 and 1998, while the number of programs offering routine training in second-trimester abortion increased by more than sixfold.
A 1992 study revealed that only 12% of OB/GYN residency programs routinely offered training in first-trimester abortion, while an additional 58% offered the training as an elective. In 1998, 46% of the 179 residency programs that responded to the survey said they offered routine training in first-trimester abortion, and 34% replied that they offered it as an elective. The number of programs offering routine training in second-trimester abortion jumped from 7% in 1992 to 44% in 1998.
Of the programs responding to the survey, 14% said they did not train residents in abortion procedures. That rate could be higher, however, since 82 programs did not respond and, according to the study's authors, "programs not responding may be less likely to offer the training."
Some abortion advocates credit the increase in programs offering routine training in abortion procedures to 1996 guidelines put forth by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the accrediting body for U.S. medical residency programs. The guidelines "urg[ed]" all OB/GYN residency programs to include abortion training as a standard part of education, with exceptions for institutions and students "for religious or moral reasons."
"This is very encouraging news in terms of women's access to abortion and their ability to continue to access abortion services in the future," says NAF executive director Vicki Sapporta.
Frank Ling, chair of the OB/GYN program at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, said that before the guidelines were implemented, many residency programs were "reluctant" to volunteer that they offered abortion training.