SECTION I SUMMARY
- Approximately half of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended in 2006; a U.S. national health goal to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy to 30% by 2010 is unattainable.
- Abortion is one of the most common and safe procedures experienced by women of reproductive age; abortion care can be considered a secondary prevention strategy to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy.
- Despite the great need for abortion care, most women face multiple obstacles when accessing abortion, including a scarcity of clinicians trained and empowered to provide the procedure.
- Most women seeking abortion do so in the first trimester, when abortion is safest and when early intervention by an APC is most advantageous.
- Both medication and aspiration abortion procedures have excellent efficacy and safety profiles, with major complications occurring in less than 1–2% of cases.
- Aspiration abortion is most commonly provided as a simple ambulatory care procedure; medication abortion is commonly completed by the woman in her home following evaluation, education, and guidance by a health care professional.
- Currently, obstetrician-gynecologists provide most abortions, although primary care clinicians (CNMs, NPs, PAs, and family physicians) are much more likely to provide care to women at risk for unintended pregnancy who live in medically underserved areas.
- Primary care clinicians in certain states have been providing safe, effective abortion care since legalization, demonstrating that early abortion combined with continuity of care reduces complications and increases access.