Entrenched as I am with this generation of medical students and residents, I know many who are hesitant to become an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN). Pro-abortion news outlets, medical organizations and physicians are chalking up the shortage of OB-GYNs to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, pretending this crisis is recent or claiming new doctors really just want to end life through abortion.
However, not only has this shortage been escalating, the political pressures on such doctors to embrace abortion or else is driving many to other specialties.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which facilitates the medical school admission process, has been discussing the deficit since long before states enacted post-Roe fetal protection laws. Reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) additionally show these concerns have been around for at least a decade as there has been a projected shortage since 2013.
A 2022 report by the March of Dimes reveals 36% of counties in the United States are considered maternity care deserts, meaning the demand for maternity care is greater than the supply of OB-GYNs. As this workforce shortage increases, HHS estimates that by 2030 there will only be a 90% supply of OB-GYNs.
Our nation’s women deserve better and to understand why this is happening.
Contrary to the mainstream narrative, the shortage is not worsening due to the restrictions in pro-life states. Students and residents who wish to pursue elective abortion have the opportunity to be educated or practice in states where fetal protection laws are not in place.
Additionally, all medically necessary techniques – including treating life-threatening conditions such as spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and ectopic pregnancy – are taught in states where elective abortion access is limited. The American Association for Pro-Life Gynecologists and Obstetricians confirms that pro-life members of the medical field support such treatments. This aspect of education has not been affected.
Also, the study by AAMC claiming a decrease in medical school senior applicants in "abortion banned" states has no statistical analysis to demonstrate the conclusion. Their study does show, however, a substantial drop in MD senior OB-GYN applicants across all states, including those which enshrine abortion protections in their state constitutions.
Additionally, we haven’t seen any data show that school applicants have increased in more pro-abortion states with applicants decreasing in more pro-life states.
Still, why is there a decrease in the OB-GYN specialty as a whole?
I’ve found part of the lack of interest coming from concerns about the persecution of pro-life medical students and residents.
Being a current medical school applicant myself who also runs the medical student programming with Students for Life of America and Future Medical Professionals for Life, I hear stories from students regularly who would rather practice a less controversial specialty for fear of persecution or even students who have opted for another career path after completing medical school or residency.
Yet the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that only 14 percent of practicing OB-GYNs provide abortions in their practice. Discriminating against anyone with a moral reservation about providing abortions, when clearly most OB-GYNs do not provide them, is sure to drive away new parties interested in practicing Hippocratic medicine, to do no harm.
One thing the AAMC does get right in their analysis of the new Dobbs v. Jackson era of medical education is that legislatures do need to consider the impact of fetal protection laws on their physician workforce.
With pro-abortion medical students and residents more likely to seek education in pro-abortion states and pro-life medical students being discouraged from entering the OB-GYN specialty altogether, pro-life states must do something to attract students back to their states. Pro-life students need to be welcomed into the medical profession.
Legislatures in pro-life states can protect their OB-GYN workforce by doubling-down on conscience protections. We need pro-life state legislatures to pass new and innovative pro-life medical education bills to provide adequate funding.
The bottom line is that pro-life medical students and residents would be more likely to stay in a desperately needed specialty if they had the assurance that they would be able to practice compassionate, life-affirming medicine from the moment they entered medical school until the moment they retire.
With the long-standing shortage of OB-GYNs well-documented over the past several years, the medical education system cannot afford to discriminate against students desiring an evidence-based, pro-life practice. Let’s not hinder those with a heart for the Hippocratic oath.