Future physicians' attitudes on women's reproductive rights: a survey of medical students in an American university

J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). Nov-Dec 1991;46(6):178-81.


The July 1989 US Supreme Court decision in Webster v Reproductive Health Services restricts both women's access to legal abortion and physicians' latitude when performing abortions. We surveyed 197 medical students at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons regarding their general attitudes toward abortion as well as their specific opinions concerning the Webster decision and the possible restriction of minors' access to abortion represented by three then undecided cases. Of those surveyed, 85.8% were pro-choice by self-description as compared with 14.2% pro-life. The antiabortion group was predominantly male (78.6%) and of Catholic background, while there were no significant gender and/or religious correlates among the pro-choice group. The majority of the respondents (83.2%) disagreed with either one or both stipulated restrictions of Webster and 81.4% did not support limiting minors' access to abortion in any way. Moreover, only 19.8% admitted to a change in general attitude toward abortion during their medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minors
  • Students, Medical*
  • Supreme Court Decisions
  • United States
  • Value of Life
  • Women's Rights*