The subject of abortion has long been a topic of controversy in the United States. With the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade being overturned, a new wave of debate has started. However, discussion around if states should be allowed to regulate abortion is not the only nuance to come from this overturned ruling. There are many cases in healthcare where abortion is a medical necessity, and certain new state laws are making this practice more difficult.
Recently, OBGYN residency programs in states restricting the practice of abortion have been given a near impossible choice; risk being prosecuted for providing training or risk losing their program accreditation if they don’t. With the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education reaffirming its requirement that OBGYN residency programs make abortion training available and lawmakers increasingly looking to stop people from getting out of state abortions, a solution for training new OBGYNs is becoming quite complex. Understanding that the future of OBGYN training of abortion procedures is uncertain, we asked the Figure 1 community for their thoughts.
Here is what more than 1,600 healthcare professionals had to say.
Should Abortion Training Be a Requirement for OBGYNs?
With this new paradox introduced for OBGYN residency programs, perhaps a solution could be to simply remove abortion training as a mandatory part of the program, right? Well, when we asked the Figure 1 community if this training should be required for OBGYNs, an overwhelming majority of 76% said yes.
One respondent stated, “It does not matter if abortion is illegal or not. All OBGYNs need to understand the procedure complications as it will be done in other states and it will end up being done illegally. OBGYNs still need to care for those patients having complications.”
So, personal beliefs aside, it is quite clear that for the safety of patients, healthcare professionals agree that OBGYNs must be competent about the practice of abortion.
Exceptions to the Rule
While the accrediting body states that programs can arrange for clinic rotations out of state to avoid going against state laws that restrict abortion, many program directors fear that option may have its own legal implications.
So, we asked if accreditation guidelines should make an exception for programs running in states where abortion has been criminalized. Half said no, abortion training is crucial and is a must for OBGYNs to know.
Respondents seem to have the opposite view, in that state laws should be the ones making exceptions. A paramedic stated,“You would think that state laws would allow an exception for medical education because not all providers will be working in just your state …”
What is the Impact?
Of course this issue of legislation vs. accreditation will have an impact on OBGYN residency programs and on practicing HCPs, but we asked the Figure 1 community what impact this would have on future generations of OBGYNs and nearly 80% of respondents agreed that the impact would be negative.
HCPs definitely have strong opinions on this topic but it is almost unilaterally the opinion that abortion training is a necessity. Whether you agree with the practice or not, to be a competent OBGYN, you must have knowledge of the procedure. Don’t believe us? Here are some words directly from HCPs:
“You need to be competent to call yourself an OBGYN. There are times that an emergency abortion can save the mother’s life. They should choose another specialty if they can’t accept that or better yet leave medicine entirely.”– Podiatrist
“Residents may encounter emergency cases where abortion has occurred and need to be aware of the procedures involved — even if they are conscientious objectors. Therefore education is necessary though the actual training should not involve actual pregnancy termination if the individual does but believe in this.”– OBGYN
“These procedures are not only necessary, but they are also lifesaving in some cases. This training MUST remain compulsory. We can debate the ‘morals’ of the situation in our personal lives all we want.”– Paramedic
Published February 13, 2022
Listen to Season 7 of the DDx Podcast on Abortion
In this season of the top-rated DDx podcast, you’ll meet three obstetricians who perform an essential medical procedure: abortion. Learn about their patients and how abortion affects both physical and mental health. From a molar pregnancy to fetal chromosomal abnormalities, these stories illustrate the life-saving impact of abortion, and its necessity within healthcare.