States with abortion restrictions could hemorrhage doctors and further limit reproductive health care access, a survey suggests.
The findings showed that most medical students are unlikely to do their residency program in states with strict abortion limits.
The survey, scheduled to be presented at the this weekend at the annual meeting for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, comes at a time when the US is already facing a shortage of OB/GYN doctors.
This reluctance and the lack of doctors already in these states could further strain reproductive health care in the 33 states that don’t have abortion protections.
Findings from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists show that more than half of incoming doctors are unlikely to practice in states with strict abortion bans
Data published this year from the American Association of Medical Colleges found a 10.5 percent decrease in OB/GYN residency applications in states with near-total abortion bans
More than a dozen states have restricted access to abortions following the overturning of Roe V Wade
The survey was conducted from August through October of last year, just after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, which granted the right to abortion across the US for almost 50 years.
Respondents included 494 medical students in 32 states. Most were women, and 76.9 percent said that access to abortion care would influence where they chose to pursue residency.
The majority of respondents, 57.9 percent, said they were unlikely or very unlikely to apply to a single residency program in a state that had any abortion restrictions.
More than 72 percent of respondents said that abortion access would have an impact on where they chose to start a family.
These findings come at a time when the US is already facing a shortage of doctors in the coming year. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the US can expect a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034.
Additional 2023 data from the organization found a significant drop in the number of medical students pursuing OB/GYN programs in states with severe abortion policies.
A 5.2 percent decrease in applications was seen in all states, regardless of abortion laws. That percentage dropped to a 10.5 decrease, nearly double, in states with near-total bans.
Abortion is fully banned in the following states: Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho.
Several other states have placed restrictions, including Florida, Arizona, Utah, Ohio, and Georgia.
Many of these states also have higher rates of infant mortality than those where abortion access is not as limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the national infant mortality rate in 2017- the latest data available- was 5.8 per 1,000 live births.
In Missouri, where abortion is banned, this rate was 6.2 per 1,000 live births. Louisiana, which has similar restrictions, had a mortality rate of 7.1 per 1,000 live births.
The highest mortality rate in the country, however, is in Mississippi, at 8.6 deaths per 1,000 births. The state closed its final abortion clinic in July 2022, right after the Roe v Wade decision.
States like Missouri, Louisiana, and Georgia also had higher rates of childbirth-related deaths than less restricted areas, according to rankings from the United Health Foundation. These states ranked 42nd, 47th, and 48th, respectively, out of 50.
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