Study: Republican Doctors More Likely to Encourage Women to Choose Life Instead of Abortion

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 5, 2016   |   12:17PM   |   Washington, DC

The advice a pregnant woman receives from her doctor may depend a lot on the doctor’s political affiliation, a new Yale University study found.

Researchers found that Republican doctors were more likely to encourage women to choose life for their babies and discourage abortion, while Democrat doctors were less likely to discuss possible mental health risks of abortion with their patients. The study recently was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

The research involved about 200 doctors who were presented with different hypothetical patient scenarios. They were asked to rate their level of concern and the likelihood of their using a certain treatment in response to the situation. Researchers said doctors’ responses “differed substantially” based on their political affiliation.

One scenario involved a woman who had two abortions in five years and no complications. The study found that Republican doctors were “more likely to discuss the mental health aspects of abortion and to encourage the patient not to have more abortions.” Republican doctors also tended to find the scenario “more concerning” than the Democrat doctors did.

The Daily Beast, a pro-abortion news outlet, reported more about the study:

Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a Yale psychiatrist and co-author on the study, told The Daily Beast that if you consider physician responses in the one to 10 range as being “unlikely to take [an] action” and responses six to 10 range as being “likely to take the action,” then Republican physicians were “twice as likely as the Democratic physicians to discourage the patient from having more abortions in the future.” Republican doctors were also 35 percent more likely to discuss “mental health aspects of abortion.”

Later, in reference to the abortion scenario, the article continued:

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But Goldenberg is quick to note that primary-care physicians who personally support abortion rights may bring their politics into the exam room in a different way.

“While conducting this [study], we also heard anecdotes of patients who expressed concern, for example, that their physicians urged genetic testing even when the genetic testing was not necessarily going to change the patient’s decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy or not,” he said.

Eitan D. Hersh, an author of the study and a member of the political science department at Yale, said the research is evidence that doctors’ personal beliefs can influence their patients.

“Patients in a medical examination room are in a fairly vulnerable position,” he told the Washington Post. “They’ve put a lot of trust in their doctor. It’s important for all of us to understand how a doctor’s ideological biases might affect their judgment.”

It’s especially true for pregnant women considering abortion and their unborn babies. Many of these pregnant women are in vulnerable situations, and some are feeling pressured to abort their babies. When an unborn baby has been diagnosed with an anomaly, many parents are not sure what to expect or what resources are available. As the new research suggests, a doctor’s opinion potentially could have a major influence on a woman as she makes a final decision about her situation and her unborn baby’s life.

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetrics and Gynecologists offers a good resource for families seeking pro-life physicians. The association has an online directory that lists pro-life OB-GYNs and doctors by state.