As physician shortage worsens, abortion hangs in the balance
America is facing a physician shortage on all fronts, and women’s health providers are no exception.
While most any physician can recieve training to provide abortions, the vast majority of providers are Ob/Gyns. One major problem? About half of all counties in the United States lack a practicing Ob/Gyn. This illustrates another key point: where you live can seriously affect your access to abortion care. America is facing a physician shortage on all fronts, and women’s health providers are no exception.
Unfortunately, the Ob/Gyn shortage problem does not stop there. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates a shortage of approximately 8,800 Ob/Gyn clinicians in the next two years. Ob/Gyns work long, sometimes unpredictable hours and often experience burnout. Ob/Gyns who are also abortion providers often face significant stigma and in some cases, have legitimate concerns about their safety and the safety of their patients--further contributing to stress and burnout.
Another key factor involves money. Ob/Gyns consistently have one of the lowest-paid medical specialties while simultaneously managing some of the highest malpractice insurance costs among physicians. These combined factors drive providers to practice in wealthier areas where they will not be dependent on poor compensation through Medicaid. Sadly, rural areas are hit the hardest as their residents are left with fewer options to receive care. Many abortion clinics are shutting down in these areas due to a combination of provider shortage and restrictive anti-choice regulations, making it challenging to access critical reproductive care services.
Given the barriers to accessing abortion within a hospital or clinic, some people may elect to have a self-managed abortion. Despite the relative safety of medication abortion, it is important to be informed. You can learn more about self-managed abortion by visiting abortionpillinfo.org.