Medical students’ attitudes to abortion: a comparison between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Oslo

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Abortion policy varies significantly between Northern Ireland and Norway. This is the first study to compare medical students’ attitudes towards abortion in two different countries.


To assess medical students’ attitudes to abortion at the University of Oslo (UiO) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).


An anonymous questionnaire completed by 59 medical students at UiO and 86 medical students at QUB.


Students who had completed their obstetrics and gynaecology placements during 2006/2007.


The students’ responses (UiO versus QUB) were as follows: response rate, 95.2% vs 92.5%; stated no religious affiliation, 48.0% vs 4.7%; pro-abortion, 78.2% vs 14.3% (χ2 = 58.160, p<0.001); had seen an abortion while studying medicine, 74.6% vs 9.4% (χ2 = 73.183, p<0.001); in favour of abortion when there was a threat to the mother’s life, 100% vs 93.3% (χ2 = 6.143, p = 0.150); in favour of providing abortion on the mother’s request, 86.4% vs 9.3% (χ2 = 42.067, p<0.001); in agreement that women should have access to free abortion services (mean value on a 5-point Likert scale 1.69 out of 5), versus in disagreement (mean 3.76, p<0.001).


There were significant differences in students’ attitudes to abortion, reflecting differences in religious, legal and educational experiences.

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