Despite the frequency of abortions, one-third of medical schools in the US and Canada did not include coverage of that topic, according to a survey conducted in 2002–2005. The purpose of this project was to develop, implement, and evaluate a module for second year medical students related to the ethics of abortion.
The module was designed as Independent Learning Time (ILT). The stated purpose was for students to consider some of the recent debate in the ethics literature related to conscientious objection and abortion and how personal views may influence future practice. The ILT included readings and Power Points to view. Students were asked to write a one-page reflection on one of three writing prompts.
The most commonly selected writing prompt in three classes was on personal values in relation to abortion (56.5%), followed by information about nearest provider of reproductive services to rural preceptor site (34.7%), followed by conscientious objection (23.3%). We received many positive comments about the ILT, including: “First, I would like to acknowledge my gratitude for this assignment and its subject. I believe it is very important that future physicians learn the entirety of women’s reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, but unfortunately this is not always the case in medical training”.
There has been an extremely positive response to the ILT. With the exception of the prompt specific to our regional campus mission that includes rural preceptorships during the preclinical years, this module could be implementable at other medical schools.