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Community Health Nurses’ Perceptions, Knowledge, and Involvement in Abortion Services


Swenson, Ingrid Elizabeth; Swanson, Janice; & Oakley, Deborah (1994). Community Health Nurses' Perceptions, Knowledge, and Involvement in Abortion Services. Women's Health Issues, 4(4), 219-226.


To learn more about the abortion-related experiences and value orientation of nurses, questionnaires were mailed to 1900 randomly selected community health nurses in the US; 844 (45%) responded. Although only 7% worked in settings where abortions are performed, half provide abortion counseling or referral. Their knowledge about the epidemiology of abortion in the US and recent abortion-related legislation was inadequate, and only 28.6% had received training about the clinical aspects of abortion in nursing school. Respondents' attitudes toward induced abortion were generally supportive; 82.0% believed federal funds should be provided for the procedure, 81.6% agreed women in the first trimester of pregnancy should have the right to choose abortion, and 70.3% supported abortion on demand. However, 27.8% indicated that abortion services in their communities were being negatively impacted by anti-abortion groups; only 9.7% felt that pro-choice groups were having a significant impact in their area. 56.0% reported they had been involved in some political activity relating to abortion, largely voting for a pro-abortion rights candidate or writing letters to legislators. 56.4& indicated they would vote against a candidate they otherwise supported if his or her views on abortion were unacceptable. 21.9% and 16.8% of nurses were involved with local or national Planned Parenthood; under 3% were members of anti-abortion groups. In-service training programs on the abortion issue are recommended to enable community health nurses to expand their counseling and political advocacy skills.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Women's Health Issues


Swenson, Ingrid Elizabeth
Swanson, Janice
Oakley, Deborah