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Study claims doctors have abortions at half the rate of general population

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A study conducted by team members of the American Medical Women’s Association Physician Fertility Task Force has found that physicians are less likely to have abortions than the general population — about half as likely, in fact.

A Medpage Today article downplays these findings, claiming they “show that abortion is common among physicians, albeit slightly less common than in the general population.” While the Guttmacher Institute claims approximately one in four women, or 23.7%, have an abortion, of the 1,566 physicians who participated in this recent study, 11.5% had an abortion. This is approximately one in ten physicians — not a “slight” difference between the two groups. The reports of the study seem to be an attempt to normalize abortion. 

READ: Who has most abortions? The data may (or may not) surprise you

In a blog post on Secular Pro-Life’s website, Kelsey Hazzard speculates why physicians are less likely to have abortions. She points out that this evidence undermines the assumption that women need abortions to succeed in their careers.

First, Hazzard points out that doctors tend to have a higher income. Since financial concerns are often a motivation for having an abortion, this would not be a problem for high-earning physicians. However, during training and residency, when they are younger and more likely to conceive, future doctors have not yet begun earning a significant income. Finances are likely not a substantial factor in the lower rate of abortion.

A second possibility is that highly educated doctors are more knowledgeable about birth control methods and consistent in using them, therefore creating a lower rate of conception in the first place. Finally, and most promising for the pro-life cause, Hazzard writes, “… physicians are better educated about prenatal development and abortion risks. Only 14% of ob/gyns commit abortions, and that may carry over into their personal lives.”

One more significant factor affecting this phenomenon is that infertility is higher among physicians than in the general population. Therefore, there is a lower conception rate, so it makes sense that the abortion rate would be lower. Ironically, the same team which published this study trying to show that abortion is common among physicians has also done extensive work to help treat infertility among physicians.

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