A Georgia student discusses the impact of abortion laws on choosing a medical school
‘Fewer people are applying to med schools in restricted states,’ says Becca, a fourth-year medical student.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, the number of applicants to medical schools and residencies in states with extremely restrictive abortion bans has declined, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Becca, a fourth-year medical student at Emory University in Georgia, tells the American Independent Foundation that not only are her colleagues concerned about getting the right training in residencies and medical schools in states with restrictive abortion bans, but they also worry about what would happen if they themselves got pregnant while in schools in those states.
“I think that people are starting to look a lot more towards applying to programs where abortion isn’t restricted because they’re thinking about themselves,” says Becca, who asked that the American Independent Foundation use only her first name. “And they’re also going to be thinking about their patients. They want their patients to be able to get the best care. So they want to train in a place where their patients are also going to be able to get good care if they need it.”
Becca says that all of the views she expresses in this interview are her own and do not reflect those of Emory University.
The AAMC report on training location preferences notes a 10.2% decline in applications to OB-GYN programs in states with the most restrictive abortion bans.
In Wisconsin, a state in which an abortion law dating back to 1849 took effect when Roe was overturned, banning all abortions unless a pregnant person is at risk of dying without the procedure, the AAMC study found an 8% decrease in the number of applications to OB-GYN residencies.
“When you want to become a doctor, you want to be able to have all the skills necessary to practice the medicine that you want to do. But if there’s some outside force that you have no control over telling you that actually, you can’t do that, that’s really difficult. In speaking with a lot of practicing OB-GYNs, they’re starting to say, We don’t even know how to really navigate this legal gray area,” Becca says.
In June, Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray introduced the Reproductive Health Care Training Act of 2023, legislation that would expand abortion training and access, particularly for those medical students forced to travel out of states with abortion bans for their residencies.
“The nonstop Republican attacks on reproductive health care are having a chilling effect not only on patients seeking care but also on the doctors and nurses who provide it. We need to make sure that health professionals in every state can receive critical training in reproductive health care—even if they have to travel to other states to get it,” Murray said in a statement.
The legislation would establish an annual fund of $25 million for the next five years to support students, residents, and clinicians seeking training out of state.
“Now residency programs are having to shift the way that they train a lot of their OB-GYN residents. So, if you’re going to a school like Emory or a school in Georgia, where their abortion laws are restricted, part of your residency training has to be on abortion. … So a lot of them are starting partnerships with centers or clinics in the Northeast or in other states that don’t have restrictive abortion laws, so that they can send their residents up there to get trained, and then they’ll come back and have the skills that they need. But that just seems such a crazy extra step that shouldn’t have to happen,” Becca says.
Becca is specializing in urology. Although her training does not directly focus on reproductive health care, it will be impacted by the overturning of Roe.
The number of vasectomy procedures in U.S. states where Planned Parenthood offers the procedure has increased by 40% since June 2022, according to Planned Parenthood Great Northwest Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky.
A vasectomy is a surgical sterilization procedure in which the tubes in a man’s scrotum that carry sperm are cut, blocking the supply of sperm to the semen and preventing pregnancy.
“This isn’t just a problem for women. It’s a problem for men, a problem for urologists because now you’re all just going to be doing 10 times the amount of vasectomies they did before,” Becca says.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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