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Pediatrics. 1998 May;101(5):E4.

Attitudes of the physician membership of the society for adolescent medicine toward medical abortions for adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA 01199, USA.



To document the practices and attitudes of the US physician members of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) regarding adolescent abortion and contraception, as well as physician willingness to prescribe medical abortion if approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Cross-sectional questionnaire survey. Participants. The entire physician membership of SAM (N = 1001) was surveyed. A total of 713 physicians responded, with 668 usable surveys yielding an adjusted response rate of 70%.


Of the respondents, 81% were trained as pediatricians; 58% had additional adolescent medicine training. Ninety-six percent prescribed contraception for their patients. Sixty-one percent of respondents identified abortion as an option for pregnant adolescents in all circumstances, whereas 4% believed abortion should never be an option. Eighty-nine percent referred their patients for abortions; 90% were aware of medications to induce abortions medically. If these medications (methotrexate and misoprostol, RU-486) were FDA-approved, 42% would prescribe them for their patients; 34% were unsure. Fifty-four percent believed if medical abortions were routinely available, they should be available from primary care physicians. Physicians were significantly more likely to consider prescribing medical abortions if the physician were female, offered postcoital contraception, performed Norplant insertions, referred adolescents for abortions, or performed postabortion medical checkups. Physicians were no more likely to consider prescribing medical abortions according to physician age, specialty training, or date of residency training. Religious affiliation per se was not associated with likelihood of prescribing medical abortions, but Catholic physicians were significantly less likely to consider prescribing medical abortions.


Virtually all SAM physician respondents (96%) reported that abortion for pregnant adolescents should be available under some circumstances. Forty-two percent would prescribe medical abortion if the medications were FDA-approved, suggesting that medical abortion would potentially be available to adolescents from a larger group of physicians than is currently available.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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