Study finds OB-GYNs in Mexico feel stigmatized, would benefit from training on safe legal abortion

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mexican provider

Gynecologists and obstetricians in Mexico vary greatly in their knowledge, attitudes and practices related to abortion—and would benefit from training on the legal grounds for abortion in Mexico and clinical best practices for abortion care, a new study finds. In addition, many OB-GYNs report feeling stigmatized for providing abortions.

“Training on safe, legal abortion would help destigmatize the procedure among Mexican providers and promote inclusion of abortion in basic medical training and residency programs as well as academic environments,” says Ipas Mexico Director Raffaela Schiavon. “Such training should focus not only on the protection of women’s health and rights, but also on making providers who perform abortions feel safer and more comfortable within the medical community.”

The study, “Induced abortion in Mexico: What do gynecologists and obstetricians think and do?” was published in the Mexican OB-GYN journal Ginecología y Obstetricia de Mexico and co-authored by Schiavon; Dr. José de Jesús Montoya-Romero, former president of the Mexican Federation of OB-GYN Societies; and Erika Troncoso, Ipas Mexico senior program advisor. Findings derive from a survey of 1,085 OB-GYNs who attended the 2013 Mexican Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics and include the following key discoveries:

  • Varying knowledge of legal status: 77 percent of providers correctly identified that abortion is legal under certain conditions in each state, while 17.5 percent thought it was never legal and 5.7 percent thought it is legal under all conditions.

  • Discrimination against women who have abortions: 28 percent of providers demonstrated negative attitudes toward women who seek illegal abortions and if faced with such a patient, said they would do things such as scold the woman (two percent), inform her partner or family (18 percent), or report her to the authorities (eight percent).

  • Providers suffer stigma: 39 percent of providers thought the medical profession discriminates against those who provide abortions, while 28 percent admitted they stigmatize their colleagues for doing so and 27 percent said they would experience stigma if they performed abortions.

  • Over-treatment of abortion patients: A high percentage of providers said they hospitalize patients for whom they provide early aspiration or medical abortion—a practice that evidence shows is unnecessary and costly to health systems.