Co-authored with Hilary White

January 23, 2013 ( – Japanese nurses and midwives involved in abortion are showing signs of “compassion fatigue” due to beliefs that the aborted babies actually deserved to live, according to a new study from Kanazawa University.

The study of “major stress factors related to abortion care,” showed that 255 obstetric and gynecological nurses and midwives are not equal to the stress of aborting children. The health workers complained of “compassion fatigue,” and burnout while aborting children.

Abortion is legal in Japan up to 21 weeks of gestation for a wide variety of reasons.

According to the study, symptoms of compassion fatigue include “chronic fatigue, irritability, dread of going to work, aggravation of physical ailments, and a lack of joy in life.”

The study said that the top stress factors for abortion nurses included, “Thinking that the aborted fetus deserved to live,” and, “Touching the aborted fetus for the purpose of measurement.”

Other stress factors included, “Providing abortion care despite disagreeing with the reason for abortion,” and, “Inability to accept abortion care as a job.”

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“These findings indicate that providing abortion services is a highly distressing experience for nurses and midwives,” said the study authors.

The study pointed out that previous surveys have shown that nurses in Japan by and large support legal abortion. However, “when actual abortion care was involved, nurses experienced more of a conflict.”

The study also said that the more first trimester abortions a nurse or midwife participated in the previous year, the more likely the nurse was to suffer from compassion fatigue. At the same time, the more childbirths that nurses attended, the happier they were likely to be.

The study authors recommended that steps be taken “to ensure good working conditions for staff” to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue.

“Decreasing the professional confusion and distress related to abortion care in nursing and midwifery professionals in Japan should be a priority,” concluded the study.

Abortion activists have expressed alarm in recent years over the decreasing number of doctors and medical stuff who are willing to participate in or perform abortions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research wing, the number of U.S. abortion providers decreased 38% between a peak of 2,908 in 1982 to only 1,793 providers in 2008, the most recent year for which data were available.

Data from the Federation of State Medical Board reveals that only 0.2% of physicians provide abortions. According to another study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal in 2011, 97 percent of OB-GYNs have met patients wanting an abortion, but only 14 percent are willing to perform them.


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