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March 1973

Emotional Reactions in Abortion Services Personnel

Author Affiliations

New Orleans; Chapel Hill, NC
From De Paul Hospital, New Orleans (Dr. Kane), and the Department of Psychiatry (Drs. Feldman and Lipton), and the Carolina Population Center (S. Jain), the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(3):409-411. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750330087014

This study reports a survey of subjective reactions of medical and nursing personnel to the delivery of abortion services. Staff and resident physicians described reported occasional depression, anxiety, and much obsessive ruminative thinking regarding their involvement with the performance of large numbers of abortions. One physician had to withdraw for a period of several months because of the stress related to his involvement with the program.

Physician involvement, beyond the direct services in the clinic or the operating room, were perfunctory, despite the disclaimers that they treated these patients in the same way. Nursing personnel keenly felt this lack of leadership and suffered through considerable stress in attempting to resolve their ambivalence about participation in these procedures. They also reported some anxiety and depression, as well as a good deal of anger towards the patients for their sexual acting-out.

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