GENEVA, Switzerland, Thu Mar 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A study carried out in Nepal by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) is suggesting that more first-trimester chemical abortions could take place in developing countries if nurses and midwives were allowed to administer the drugs.

Dr. I. K. Warriner of the World Health Organization noted that early first-trimester medical abortion is currently “underused in developing countries” because usually only doctors are authorized to administer the deadly chemicals.

“We assessed whether early first-trimester medical abortion provided by midlevel providers (government-trained, certified nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives) was as safe and effective as that provided by doctors in Nepal,” the study’s author said in a report published in The Lancet.

The study involved 1295 women who were “randomly assigned to a doctor or a midlevel provider for oral administration of 200 mg mifepristone followed by 800 μg misoprostol vaginally 2 days later, and followed up 10—14 days later. The primary endpoint was complete abortion without manual vacuum aspiration within 30 days of treatment.”

“Similar clinical outcomes,” that is, completed abortions, whether done by doctors or midwives, led the author to conclude that “appropriately trained midlevel health-care providers can provide safe, low-technology medical abortion services for women independently from doctors.”

In recent years there has been an increasing push for midwives and nurses to perform abortions, apparently fueled, at least in part, by the increasing reticence of physicians to commit abortion.

In 2007 Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) expressed alarm that British doctors were opting out of the abortion business in “unprecedented numbers,” citing “distaste” and ethical and religious convictions for the increase in “conscientious objectors” requesting exemption.

Abortionist and spokesperson on family planning for the RCOG, Kate Guthrie, told the media, “There is an increasing number of young doctors who are not participating in the training. The college and the Department of Health are really worried.”

In Spain, a pro-life organization found that the great majority, 96 percent, of Spanish doctors, refuse to commit abortion, prompting International Planned Parenthood to complain on their website that “the Roman Catholic Church and ‘pro-life’ opposition in Spain is a constant factor in non-government organization advocacy for sexual and reproductive health” and that abortions are relegated to private facilities.

The Italian Ministry of Health has reported that between 2003 and 2008 the number of gynecologists claiming protection under the conscientious objection clause for abortion rose from 58.7 percent to nearly 70 percent, with the number of doctors refusing to perform abortions on moral grounds continually rising.

A similar situation exists in Canada where pro-abortion organizations complain that though abortion is technically legal up to the moment of birth, such a high percentage of doctors refuse to commit abortions that abortion access is in effect restricted.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the Washington D.C.-based National Abortion Federation, demanded in a letter to the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2007 that the CMA force doctors to perform or refer for abortions, whether or not they object morally or on religious grounds. “Canada, which reputedly provides the most open legal access to abortion in the western world, doesn’t provide access enough,” Saporta complained.

“Many women can’t get abortions at all, or are subjected to long delays.” The CMA should therefore “require doctors by law to perform abortions whether they like it or not,” according to Saporta.

The study of chemical abortion by nurses and midwives in Nepal by the World Health Organization is available on the website of The Lancet here.

Contact Information:
Dr. I. K. Warriner, Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP)
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland