Nurse's Station

Nurses in the media: New study on nurses and abortion



veer | James Peragine

The American Journal of Public Heath released a study recently that shows abortions performed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives are just as safe as those done by doctors. Though not shocking to many, this is a breakthrough for nursing and a helpful tool for medicine.

The news came the week before the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the infamous trial which originally made abortion legal in the US. And while there is still a great debate about whether or not abortion should be legal and how it should be handled, a majority of states only allow physicians to perform these procedures. This complicates the process and can greatly slow it down.

In general, the study was conducted to determine whether early aspiration abortions performed by trained nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse midwives were safe.

“Researchers report in their study that the results show the pool of abortion providers could be safely expanded beyond physicians to include other trained health care professionals,” reported. “They found that:

  • Nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants can provide early abortion care that is clinically as safe as physicians;
  • Outpatient abortion is very safe, whether it is provided by physicians or by nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives or physician assistants.”

In doing this, researchers found that a shift could occur to earlier gestations, which will result in safer, less costly care overall. “Increasing the types of health care professionals who can provide early aspiration abortion care is one way to reduce this health care disparity,’’ said lead author Tracy Weitz, PhD, MPA. “Policy makers can now feel confident that expanding access to care in this way is evidence-based and will promote women’s health.’’

On another note, the study proved the positive use of, well, studies. “The value of this study extends beyond the question of who can safely perform aspiration abortion because it provides an example of how research can be used to answer relevant health care policy issues,’’ said study co-author Diana Taylor, PhD, RNP, professor emeritus in the UCSF School of Nursing. “As the U.S. demand for cost-effective health care increases, workforce development has become a key component of health care reform. All qualified health professionals should perform clinical care to the fullest extent of their education and competency.’’


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