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Abortion-related care and the role of the midwife: a global perspective

Authors Fullerton J, Butler MM, Aman C, Reid T, Dowler M

Received 28 June 2018

Accepted for publication 27 August 2018

Published 23 November 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 751—762


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Judith Fullerton,1 Michelle M Butler,2 Cheryl Aman,3 Tobi Reid,3 Melanie Dowler3

1Retired, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA; 2Faculty of Science and Health, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland; 3Midwifery Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Introduction: The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) represents 132 midwifery associations in 113 countries. The ICM disseminates the Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice (EC) that describes the global scope of midwifery practice. The basic (core) and expanded (additional or optional) role of midwives in providing abortion-related care services was first described in 2010. A literature review about three items that are particularly critical to access to abortion services was conducted. Findings that emerged in the recent 2016–2017 update study about these three items are presented.
Methods: A modified Delphi study was administered via the Internet in a series of three rounds. Thirty-seven statements of abortion-related knowledge and skill were presented.
Results: A total of 895 individuals participated. The total of respondents across all three rounds represented 90 of the 105 member countries at the time of the study. The role of midwives in providing comprehensive abortion care, including referral for abortion and provision of postabortion family planning, achieved the necessary 85% agreement to be designated as essential (basic) knowledge or skill for the global scope of midwifery practice. The provision of medication abortion and performance of manual vacuum aspiration abortion were designated as optional for midwives who wished to provide these services. Endorsement of these latter practices was highest in both Francophone and Anglophone regions of Africa, Asian Pacific countries, and countries at a lower state of economic development.
Conclusion: The role of midwives in provision of abortion-related care services was reaffirmed in the recent Delphi study to inform the update to the EC. The role of midwives as direct providers of medical and vacuum aspiration abortions was reaffirmed for those individual midwives who wish to obtain the requisite competency to provide those services, in jurisdictions where these services are legally authorized.

Keywords: aspiration abortion, medical abortion, abortion providers, comprehensive abortion care, postabortion care, midwives

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