There could be far fewer U.S. doctors trained to provide an abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court in a decision that is expected by the end of June, researchers report.
That's because nearly 45% of 286 obstetrics and gynecology residency programs across the United States are in the 26 states certain or likely to ban abortion if the court overturns Roe v. Wade.
The researchers' analysis of ob-gyn residency programs nationwide also showed that nearly 44% of just over 6,000 residents accredited in ob-gyn programs in 2020 are in states certain or likely to ban abortion, according to the study published April 28 in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
"In 2020, 92% of obstetrics and gynecology residents reported having access to some level of abortion training," the authors wrote. "We predict that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, this would plummet to, at most, 56%."
They noted that their study likely underestimates the reduction in abortion training because it did not include family medicine and other medical specialties where residents also receive abortion training.
"Decimating abortion training in half the country will have far-reaching impacts," said study senior author Dr. Jody Steinauer, director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco.
"It could affect the care of future patients of clinicians who trained in these states wherever they go on to practice. We need to develop new and innovative ways to train ob-gyns and other clinicians to provide this essential care," Steinauer said in a university news release.
Abortion training also provides residents with a range of other important skills such as counseling, trauma-informed care, miscarriage management and uterine evacuation, according to study first author Dr. Kavita Vinekar, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles' School of Medicine.
"Those are the skills I got in my abortion training that I use every single day in all of the non-abortion care that I do," she said in the release.
To prepare for the sharp drop in abortion training if Roe v. Wade is overturned, medical residency programs should plan out-of-state travel rotations, patient-centered early pregnancy loss training, and abortion simulation courses, the study authors suggested.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on abortion.
SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, April 28, 2022