If one step to a safe abortion is a doctor who can perform it, we need more doctors learning how to do so. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, only 51 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residency programs offer routine abortion training. There are three typical “tracks” for abortion care training: opting out, in which abortion training is scheduled, but students can choose not to participate; opting in, in which training is available, but not regularly scheduled; and programs in which no training is regularly available. In the category of “family medicine,” only 24 out of 461 accredited residency programs offer integrated abortion training.
The bottom line is that many future OB-GYNs aren’t learning about abortion—the medical realities of the procedures, or the social and political dynamics at play when women seek them out. A lack of abortion providers in the United States puts a strain on clinics, the doctors themselves, and of course, the women in need. (This is especially true in rural, lower-income areas where few women’s health clinics exist).
The College recommends that abortion education be included in the curricula of all medical schools. We think that’s a good start.