First-trimester surgical abortion practices: a survey of National Abortion Federation members

Katharine O'Connell*, Heidi E. Jones, Melissa Simon, Vicki Saporta, Maureen Paul, E. Steve Lichtenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Background: Designated providers in specialized clinics perform the majority of approximately 1.1 million first-trimester abortions carried out in the United States each year. Our objective was to assess the first-trimester surgical abortion practices of National Abortion Federation (NAF) members. Study Design: We mailed questionnaires to NAF administrators and providers at their 364 active-member facilities in 2002. Results: Two hundred eighty-nine (79%) facilities responded; we received administrative questionnaires from 273 facilities and 293 individual clinicians. NAF facilities provided at least 325,000 first-trimester surgical abortions in the United States in 2001. The majority of providers are obstetrician-gynecologists (63%), male (62%) and at least 50 years old (64%). Half of clinicians (49%) selectively utilize manual vacuum aspiration. Almost half (47%) routinely use a metal curette to verify procedure completion; these providers are more likely to be over 50 years of age or to have 20 years or more of abortion experience. Other practices are more uniform, including routine tissue examination (93%), postoperative antibiotics (88%) and contraceptive provision (oral contraceptives, 99%; depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, 79%). Conclusions: Most perioperative practices for first-trimester abortions are similar among these respondents, in accord with evidence-based guidelines. The aging of skilled practitioners raises concerns about the future availability of surgical abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Abortion
  • Canada
  • Dilation and curettage
  • First-trimester surgical abortion
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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