A call for nurses and midwives to have a greater scope of practice in abortion care

Published:19 February 2020

CQUni researcher Lydia Mainey

Women seeking an abortion may face issues if doctors are able to conscientiously object or if there is a shortage of health services in rural and regional areas.

However, because nurses and midwives make up the biggest segment of the health workforce, if they had a greater scope of practice in abortion care, there would be more choice for women.

That’s according to CQUniversity researcher Lydia Mainey, co-author of a scoping review on ‘The role of nurses and midwives in the provision of abortion care’ in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, who says abortion-related practices are potentially over-regulated.

“Appropriately trained nurses and midwives can provide abortions as safely as physicians,” she says.

“The preparation of nurses and midwives to provide abortion care requires further research.

“Also, healthcare organisations should explore person-centred models of abortion care.

“Abortion care is a common procedure performed across many healthcare settings.

“Nurses and midwives currently provide technical and psychosocial care to women who seek abortions.

“Governments and regulatory bodies could safely extend their scope of practice to increase women’s access to safe abortions.

“Introduction of education programs, as well as embedding practice in person-centred models of care, may improve outcomes for women seeking abortions.

“Nurses and midwives are essential to the delivery of abortion care. However, there are political and educational barriers that prevent nurses and midwives from working to an extended scope of practice. Further research is required to determine the extent of evidence-based abortion practice taught across nursing and midwifery curricula.”