May 9, 2024 - Health

New doctors continue to avoid residencies in states with abortion bans

For the second consecutive year, disproportionately fewer new doctors across all specialties applied to medical residency programs in states with abortion bans and restrictions, per a new analysis released Thursday.

The big picture: In the two years since Roe v. Wade was overturned, state-level restrictions are changing the way some medical residents receive training related to abortions and emergency pregnancy care.

  • The numbers of both OB-GYN and emergency medicine applicants in 2024 were lower in states with complete abortion bans than in those without, according to an analysis from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Between the lines: "Because these policy decisions appear to affect where physicians plan to practice, state governments and health care leaders need to consider the potential impact of those decisions on the physician workforce," the researchers wrote.

By the numbers: The overall number of newly minted M.D.'s who applied to residency programs in states with abortion bans fell 4.2%, compared with a 0.6% decrease in states where abortion remains legal, per the AAMC report.

Zoom out: There was a greater relative decrease in 2024 than the previous year in the number of M.D.'s applying to programs in states with abortion restrictions compared to those in states where it remains legal, indicating continued reductions.

  • "The examination of two years of data suggests that restrictions on women's health care may continue to disproportionately decrease the likelihood" that new doctors will apply to residencies in states that offer "the most restrictive practice environments," researchers concluded.

Worth noting: States with more severe restrictions are often less populous and have fewer residency programs.

Yes, but M.D. applicants "may be selectively reducing their likelihood of applying to programs in states with more state-imposed restrictions on health care regardless of the number of available residency programs," the report states.

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