The attitudes of health providers towards abortion in Indonesia

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To assess the attitudes of Indonesian health providers toward abortion, interviews were conducted with 76 such providers--14 general practitioners, 14 gynecologists, 16 midwives, 16 traditional birth attendants (TBAs), and 16 family planning field workers (PLKBs)--from the municipality of Jakarta. The respondents, all of whom were Muslim, were selected on the basis of their familiarity with abortion referral and provision. Almost all of the gynecologists, general practitioners, and midwives interviewed supported abortion as long as it was for medical reasons and performed by a gynecologists. In addition, the majority of gynecologists, midwives, and PLKBs, compared to only 2 general practitioners, considered contraceptive failure a valid reasons for pregnancy termination. Midwives, TBAs, and PLKBs were the most liberal providers in terms of other conditions (e.g., economic hardships posed by another child, poor maternal health, or too many pregnancies spaced too closely together) in which abortion should be allowed. Ironically, these were the same providers most likely to consider abortion a sin under the terms of Islamic beliefs; however, they reconciled this contradiction by viewing menstrual regulation (the form of pregnancy termination permissible in Indonesia) as not abortion. Of the 14 gynecologists interviewed, 6 indicated they would perform an abortion as long as menstrual regulation was the method utilized and the pregnancy had not progressed beyond 2 weeks, 5 would refer the abortion seeker to another provider, and 3 would not provide a referral even though they supported abortion for medical reasons. None of the general practitioners or midwives considered themselves qualified to perform an abortion, but they were generally willing to make a referral; half of the TBAs ad performed abortions. Although many of those interviewed reported attempting to dissuade women from terminating a pregnancy, there was a majority sentiment that it is preferable for a health provider to perform or facilitate menstrual regulation than to force an abortion seeker to use the services of an unqualified abortionist. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)




Djohan, E., Indrawasih, R., Adenan, M., Yudomustopo, H., & Tan, M. G. (1993). The attitudes of health providers towards abortion in Indonesia. Reproductive Health Matters, 1(2), 32–40.

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