Physicians' and non-physicians' views about provision of medical abortion by nurses and AYUSH physicians in Maharashtra and Bihar, India

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



There is only limited evidence on whether certified and uncertified health care providers in India support reforming the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act to expand the abortion provider base to allow trained nurses and AYUSH physicians (who are trained in Indian systems of medicine) to provide medical abortion. To explore their views, we conducted a survey of 1,200 physicians and other health care providers in Maharashtra and Bihar states and in-depth interviews with 34 of them who had used medical abortion in their practices. Findings indicate that obstetrician-gynaecologists and other allopathic physicians were less supportive than non-physicians of nurses and AYUSH physicians providing early medical abortion. The physicians did not think that these providers would be able to assess women’s eligibility for medical abortion correctly. In contrast, the majority of non-physicians found task shifting of medical abortion provision to trained nurses and AYUSH physicians acceptable, and they were confident that these providers would be able to provide medical abortion as safely and effectively as trained physicians. Assuming the reforms are passed, efforts will need to be made by government and medical professional bodies to train these new providers to undertake this role, prepare the health infrastructure to include them, and create an environment, including among physicians, that is conducive to enabling non-physicians to provide medical abortion.