How Abortion Laws Influence OB/GYN Residency Applications

Dr. Jessica Nelson
New Update

How Abortion Laws Influence OB/GYN Residency Applications

A Decrease in OB/GYN Residency Applications

A recent study has revealed a small but statistically significant decrease in the number of applicants to ob/gyn residency programs in states featuring restrictive abortion laws. This insight, derived from data from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), has ignited discussions among medical professionals, especially in the online medical community with hashtags like #MedTwitter and #ObGynTwitter gaining traction.

Data Analysis and Findings

The study found no differences in program signals in states with abortion bans or in the percentage of signals from out-of-state residents whose home state had a different level of abortion access. This decline in applications was not seen in the total number of applicants to ob/gyn programs overall, but rather in the specific states with restrictive abortion laws. It's worth noting that despite a similar number of total applicants to ob/gyn programs in the 2023 cycle, there was a significant decrease in applications to programs in states with restrictive abortion laws.

The Impact on Women’s Health Care

The decrease in ob/gyn residency applications in states with restrictive abortion laws has far-reaching implications for women's healthcare. With fewer ob/gyn residents in these states, women's access to vital healthcare services is potentially at risk. This decrease in residency applications could lead to potential risks to access to key healthcare services for women. The Dobbs decision, which is linked to a decrease in residency applications in states with abortion restrictions, has also been associated with an increase in anxiety and depression among women of reproductive age.

Legal Challenges and Future Measures

Legal challenges to abortion bans are being initiated, such as the lawsuit by Planned Parenthood in South Carolina seeking to extend the cutoff for abortions from six weeks to nine weeks. In response to these challenges and the decrease in applications, the ob/gyn specialty is considering forming its own independent residency application system. This move could potentially influence application patterns in the coming years and aims to address the healthcare access and equity issues.

Retraction of Abortion Studies

In a related development, Sage Journals has retracted three abortion studies, including two cited by a federal judge in a case against the abortion pill mifepristone, due to methodological flaws and misleading conclusions. These studies were led by individuals affiliated with pro-life advocacy organizations. One of the retracted studies was used to support a case challenging the FDA's approval of mifepristone, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court. Over 300 reproductive health researchers have filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the scientific record supporting the FDA's decision-making in the case.


The impact of abortion policies on the field of obstetrics and gynecology, as suggested by this new study, is significant and warrants further investigation. It is of paramount importance to recruit residents to all parts of the country, thereby ensuring healthcare access and equity. The discussions sparked by these findings underline the need for a comprehensive approach to women's healthcare, taking into account legal, social, and healthcare aspects.