The number of abortions is decreasing, as the Guttmacher Institute reported in January, and among the reasons might be that the number of doctors willing to perform them has also gone down.

The passage of more pro-life laws also may have added to the decline.

A report this month from outlined specifics from a recent study published in the September issue of the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which found that 97 percent of physicians surveyed had encountered a patient who wanted an abortion, but only 14 percent of those physicians were willing to perform one.

The demographics and religious beliefs of the physician were both determining factors in the willingness to do an abortion, the survey showed.

Doctors in the South and the Midwest were less likely to perform an abortion than those in the Northeast and West.

Female obstetricians were more likely than male physicians to do an abortion. And doctors aged 26-35 and 56-65 were more likely than those between the ages of 36 and 45 to perform an abortion, according to the survey.

For religious doctors, 40.2 percent of those who identify themselves as Jewish would perform an abortion, whereas only 1.2 percent of those identified as Evangelical Protestants would.

Kaiser Health News reports that in 2008, "87 percent of U.S. counties where 35 percent of reproductive-aged women live did not have a single abortion provider. Since 1996, however, all OBGYN residents have been required to learn how to perform the procedure."

Under the Provider Refusal Rule, or the "conscience clause," physicians can refuse to administer an abortion, refer a patient to another willing physician or even provide advice to the patient, without putting their job at risk. They can refuse if the "service goes against the provider's ethics," according to the Norfolk Daily News.

And in the February 2011 revised version of the rule, the statutes were strengthened, and the importance of increasing awareness of protection for health care providers was addressed, according to the National Family Planning and Reproduction Health Association.

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The report from the Department of Health and Human Services states that the protection statutes "prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from discriminating against certain health care providers based on their refusal to participate in health care services they find religiously or morally objectionable."

An NPR report in July said abortion restrictions are up as well, as 162 new laws, including changes to already existing laws, were enacted this year alone.

As of April this year, 427 abortion-restricting bills had been introduced, considerably higher than the previous year's 174, according to the Deseret News.


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