Our survey aimed to characterize the practice of inducing fetal demise before pregnancy termination among abortion providers, including its technical aspects and why providers have chosen to adopt it.
We conducted a survey of Family Planning Fellowship-trained or Fellowship-affiliated Family Planning (FP) subspecialists about their practice of inducing fetal demise, including questions regarding the circumstances in which they would induce demise, techniques used and rationales for choosing whether to adopt this practice.
Of the 169 FP subspecialists we surveyed, 105 (62%) responded. About half (52%) of respondents indicated that they routinely induced fetal demise before terminations in the second trimester. Providers' practices varied in the gestations at which they started inducing demise as well as the techniques used. Respondents provided legal, technical and psychological reasons for their decisions to induce demise.
Inducing fetal demise before second-trimester abortions is common among US FP specialists for multiple reasons. The absence of professional guidelines or robust data may contribute to the variance in the current practice patterns of inducing demise.
Our study documents the widespread practice of inducing fetal demise before second-trimester abortion and further describes wide variation in providers' methods and rationales for inducing demise. It is important for abortion providers as a professional group to come to a formal consensus on the appropriate use of these techniques and to determine whether such practices should be encouraged, tolerated or even permitted.