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Push for Abortion Training in Faith-based Medical Schools

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports comprehensive preclinical education about family planning that includes contraception and abortion for medical students.  Furthermore, the Association of Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) have set standards for medical students on the topics of contraception and abortion.   The rationale is that many women in the United States seek these reproductive services and medical students should be knowledgeable about them.   However, providing education about contraception and abortion in a faith based medical school and in particular a Catholic medical school is problematic, since both contraception and abortion is contrary to the Catholic faith.  Although all students at Catholic faith-based medical schools should be knowledgeable about the topics of contraception, sterilization, and abortion, it is not appropriate for that school to provide clinical training in those areas.  I find it remarkable that medical school admission boards at faith-based medical schools do not look for a better fit for potential students – – i.e., students that fit their mission. There are many medical schools in the United States that provide that type of clinical training.  Why cannot the five Catholic medical schools provide some diversity in medical education and be truly reflective of their Catholic mission?  See recent study conducted at Loyola University Strich School of Medicine (M. Guiahi, K. Maguire, Z.T. Ripp, R.W. Goodman, and K. Kenton.  “Perceptions of family planning and abortion education at a faith-based medical school,” Contraception (2011): E-published Ahead of Print).  This study found that the majority (71%) of fourth year medical students at Loyola felt that they had inadequate training in abortion.  Approximately half of the fourth year students desired more abortion training during their clerkship.  The authors stated that the results showed that the majority of students felt that their education and training in contraception, sterilization and abortion was inadequate.  The authors also commented that the education would not meet the APGO standards for medical education.

Richard Fehring

Richard J. Fehring, DNSc, RN, is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Marquette University Institute for Natural Family Planning. He received his masters and doctorate in nursing science from Catholic University of America and a baccalaureate in biology and nursing from Marquette University. He has published over eighty articles and book chapters in such journals as Fertility and Sterility, Contraception, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, and the Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Neonatal Nursing. Professor Fehring is the writer and editor of Current Medical Research (CMR) in natural family planning, a publication of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is the President of the Marquette University Chapter. His website can be found at: