Is Abortion Included in Maternal and Child Health Curricula in the United States?
- 161 Downloads
Purpose The purpose of this study is to assess whether Maternal and Child Health (MCH) graduate programs address abortion content in their programs’ foundational courses, elective courses, and general curricula. Description Between January and March 2017, we conducted a descriptive study with faculty from the 13 Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science and Practice (COEs). We reviewed syllabi and discussed foundational and elective course content via email and key informant interviews with COE faculty. We categorized abortion coverage in foundational courses as “transparent” or “tangential” depending on inclusion of the word “abortion” in course syllabi. We identified electives addressing abortion as “electives including abortion” and courses that focus on abortion as “abortion-specific electives.” Assessment Evidence demonstrated that most programs do not transparently address abortion in required course curricula. Only one of 13 COEs transparently addresses abortion in the foundational course(s); seven COEs tangentially include abortion in foundational courses; and all programs address abortion in some capacity though no standard exists to ensure its inclusion. Despite barriers, including avoidance of controversy and fear of losing funding, COEs could address abortion by establishing shared curricular standards, facilitating values clarification and attitude transformation activities, utilizing information-sharing networks, strengthening relationships between MCH programs and abortion-related organizations, and using professional societies. The scope of our study does not allow us to conclude why abortion content is lacking nor the quality of current content. Conclusion MCH programs should transparently incorporate abortion content in foundational and electives courses to educate students on how to engage with complex and sometimes stigmatized public health issues.
KeywordsAbortion Maternal and child health Public health education Curriculum
This paper was originally conceived of as a master’s project but was subsequently edited for publication. Many thanks to Dr. Lewis Margolis and Dr. Claudia Fernandez for serving as readers in its first iteration.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This study is not clinical or based on patient data. The UNC Office of Human Research Ethics determined this study exempt from IRB approval.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Increasing access to abortion. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 118(497), 389–391. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003677.pub4.not.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- American Public Health Association (APHA). (1991). Access to abortion ensuring the availability of qualified practitioners. Retrieved from https://apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/31/10/15/access-to-abortion-ensuring-the-availability-of-qualified-practitioners.
- Anderson, L. (2013). Abortion education under pressure in U.S. medical schools. Retrieved Jan 10, 2017, from http://news.trust.org//item/20130912080731-3jnub/.
- Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health. (2017). MCH syllabi project. Retrieved Jan 11, 2017, from http://atmch.org/mchsyllabi.
- Athey, J. L., Kavanagh, L., Bagley, K., & Hutchins, V. L. (2000). Building the future: The maternal and child health training program (p (v, 87). p.). Arlington: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health.Google Scholar
- Barar, R. E. (2015). Our expert urges policy makers to listen to women and look at the research before making any decisions about de-funding Planned Parenthood. Retrieved Oct 29, 2017, from https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/best-practice-for-abortion-policies-listen-to-womens-stories.
- Ganatra, B., Gerdts, C., Rossier, C., Johnson, B. R., Tunçalp, Ö, Assifi, A., … Alkema, L. (2017). Global, regional, and subregional classification of abortions by safety, 2010-14: Estimates from a Bayesian hierarchical model. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31794-4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Goler Blount, L. (2015). Poor women suffer most from restrictive abortion policies. Retrieved Oct 28, 2017, from https://rewire.news/article/2015/05/14/poor-women-suffer-restrictive-abortion-policies/.
- Guttmacher Institute. (2017). Induced abortion in the United States. Retrieved Feb 10, 2017, from https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states.
- Guttmacher Institute. (2016). Induced abortion worldwide. Retrieved Feb 12, 2017, from https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide.
- Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA). (2017). About the maternal and child health bureau (MCHB). Retrieved Feb 17, 2017, from https://mchb.hrsa.gov/about-maternal-and-child-health-bureau-mchb.
- Lathrop, E., & Rochat, R. (2013). The GEMMA Seminar: A graduate public health course on global elimination of maternal mortality from abortion. Contraception, 87(1), 6–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2012.08.023.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Medical Students for Choice. (2018). “Baseline curriculum development for reproductive health. Retrieved from https://www.msfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/BaselineCurriculumLearningObjectives.pdf.
- PAI. (2017). What you need to know about protecting life in global health assistance. restrictions on U.S. global health asistance: An unofficial guide. https://pai.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/WYN2K-10.5.pdf.
- World Health Organization and The World Bank. (2011). World report on disability. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/.