March 1999

Providing mifepristone-misoprostol medical abortion: The view from the clinic

Ellertson C, Simonds W, Winikoff B, Springer K, Bagchi D. Providing mifepristone-misoprostol medical abortion: The view from the clinic. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. Spring 1999; 54(2):91-96,102

In order to gather information about the practical aspects of offering medical abortion, we conducted focus group discussions at each of 17 sites participating in the first large-scale, multi-center trial of mifepristone-misoprostol abortion in the United States. The sites were chosen to represent diverse practice settings (Planned Parenthood affiliates, university research clinics, private practices, and feminist health centers) and geographical regions. Seventy-seven clinic staff members (including counselors, administrators, physicians and other health workers) participated. They discussed the impact of adding a medical method to their clinic structure, their own preferences about offering the method, and their perceptions of women's preferences. Staffing a medical abortion service requires different skills and temperament than those needed for a surgical service. Nearly all participants were eager to begin offering the medical method, and they perceived a strong demand for it on the part of women. They had mixed feelings about the type of provider who should offer the method, but nearly all felt that the regimen could be greatly simplified from the three-visit regimen tested in the trial.