- In Argentina, around 400,000 abortions are performed every year, resulting in one third of the maternal deaths.
- High quality sexual and reproductive healthcare services are a key strategy to improve adolescents' and women's health.
- We surveyed first year healthcare students in Argentina to determine their knowledge and opinions of Argentina's abortion law.
- Half were unaware of the current regulations and did not recognize allowable circumstances, which could affect their practice.
- It is crucial that medical schools include sexual and reproductive health issues in their curricula.
- Including these issues in the curricula will ensure better quality healthcare services in the future.
Abortion is legally restricted in Argentina. Although this law is almost 100 years old, most women who meet the criteria for legal abortion are not informed of or offered this possibility within the healthcare system. Healthcare students' knowledge and opinions on abortion may influence their future practice. They may deny a woman with an unwanted pregnancy a practice to which she is legally entitled, resulting in an unsafe abortion. This study assessed knowledge and personal opinions on the abortion law among first year healthcare students in order to design adequate educational strategies.
In this descriptive, analytical, cross-sectional study, structured self-administered questionnaires were administered to 781 first year medical, nursing, midwifery, and other healthcare students from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires from 2011 to 2013. Data were recorded anonymously in SPSS 20. Student samples were adjusted for gender and fields of study using the University statistics.
Of the students, 48.8% did not know the current regulations. Most of the students thought abortion was legally restricted and failed to recognize the circumstances in which it is allowed. Over 75% of the students were pro-abortion, especially those with sexual experience.
Students lack sound knowledge on the abortion law that may affect their personal lives and influence their future professional practice. It is crucial that medical schools include sexual and reproductive health issues in their curricula in order to ensure better quality healthcare services in the future.
In Argentina, approximately 400,000 abortions are performed every year, many under unsafe conditions, resulting in one third of the maternal deaths for the past decade. High quality sexual and reproductive healthcare services are a key strategy to improve adolescents' and women's health, thereby lowering maternal mortality.
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- Department of OB-GYN, Gynaecology Division, Faculty of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, 2351 Córdoba Av., C1120AAR Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Sognsvannsveien 20, 0372 Oslo, Norway
- Corresponding author. 2454 Beruti St., C1117AAD Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tel.: +54 911 5840 8101.
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