Oct 13th 2014

Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications (Coursera)

Taught by:

Abortion is a common experience for women around the world; yet, abortion is often excluded from the curricula of health professionals. This course, geared toward clinicians, health care workers, and students, aims to address this gap and will contextualize abortion care within a public health framework from both clinical and social perspectives.

Abortion is a common experience for reproductive-aged women around the world. In the US, half of all pregnancies are unintended and half of these end in abortion. (Finer 2013) Around the world, 43.8 million abortions were done in 2008 representing one fifth of all pregnancies. (Sedgh 2012) Abortion is safe and has lower morbidity and mortality than childbirth when carried out by trained practitioners in sanitary conditions (Raymond 2012), but nearly half of the abortions done in the world are unsafe, according to the WHO definition.

Despite its universality, abortion remains controversial and inaccessible for many women. Both the clinical and public health contexts of abortion are often excluded from curricula in medicine, nursing, and other health professions. Restrictions at the hospital or clinic level, and conscientious objection at the provider level compounded with legal restrictions further reduce women’s access to services.

In this six-week course, over twenty faculty from various institutions and multiple disciplines will place abortion within the context of public health and fill in the gaps left by its exclusion from mainstream curricula in health professions. Each week’s lectures will incorporate the stories of women who seek abortion in order to better portray abortion significance and rationale. Other topics will include a brief history of abortion, the clinical aspects of medication and procedural abortions in and after the first trimester, an overview of patient-centered abortion-care, the basics of abortion counseling, the professional obligations of health care practitioners to ensure that women have access to safe abortion care, and the maze of restrictions that make safe abortion care inaccessible to many women.

In addition to video lectures, there will be weekly quizzes, peer assessments, and optional additional content and reading for learners who want to explore the topic further.