by Steven Ertelt
May 15, 2006
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — A national trade group for abortion businesses has released the results of a study it conducted and is complaining that just half of the nation’s nursing programs have abortion training. The National Abortion Federation surveyed advanced practice clinician training programs, which provide training for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse-midwives.
NAF asked program directors at 486 accredited APC programs in the U.S to provide information about whether they train students in how to perform or assist in abortions.
Fewer than half (202 programs) responded and "slightly more than half" reported to NAF that they include training on surgical or drug-induced abortions or on manual vacuum aspiration, an abortion procedure often used in third-world countries.
Dr. Angel Foster of Ibis Reproductive Health, which co-sponsored the survey with NAF, called the findings "striking" saying they were upsetting given the "important role" of abortion.
Foster said nurses and PAs should be required to learn how to do abortions or assist in them and called abortion an "integral component of women’s health care."
"Regardless of an individual’s interest in and intention to provide abortion services as part of her or his practice, all APCs need to be knowledgeable about … abortion," Foster said.
Only 17 percent of the nursing programs offered instruction on more than one abortion method. Of the three program types, nursing schools were more likely to have abortion training for physician assistants.
NAF reported that nursing schools without abortion training indicated that abortion "was not a curricular priority."
Other reasons included the politically sensitive nature of abortion, concerns that state law prohibited abortions at the nursing school, lack of clinics sites for abortion training, the belief that abortion is outside the scope of a nurse’s practice, or lack of qualified faculty.
Citing a "shortage" in the number of abortion practitioners, Mary Kate Allee of NAF said nursing programs are less likely to teach about abortion because of "the migration of abortion services into specialty clinics" — referring to private abortion businesses affiliated with NAF.
To remedy the lack of abortion training, Allee proposed that abortion advocates develop a series of model courses and lectures for nursing schools. She said abortion advocates should work to arrange guest lectures at schools and develop relationships between nursing schools and local abortion businesses.
Melanie Zurek of the Abortion Access Project, which also sponsored the survey, said some programs wouldn’t include abortion training because they are religious in nature.
She proposed overcoming this objection by "framing abortion care as one aspect of early pregnancy management" and legitimizing it by including it in discussions with miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.
The NAF survey appeared in the April edition of Contraception magazine.