NRL News

Welcomed decline in the number of medical students trained in abortion

by | Mar 23, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Sarah Varney rolled out a fascinating (if overtly pro-abortion) summary of the level of  training in abortion provided by medical schools and residency programs. Here’s the headline:

Fewer medical students trained for abortion procedures

The number of med schools and residency programs where aspiring physicians can learn to perform abortion procedures continues to shrink.

Thus the good news. “The number of residency programs located in states where hospital employees are prohibited from performing or teaching about abortion — or at Catholic-owned hospitals with similar bans — has skyrocketed in recent years, an overlooked byproduct of anti-abortion legislation taking root in the American South, Midwest, and Mountain states.”

The story is principally a pep talk for medical students seeking 

to learn to do abortions but are finding fewer and fewer opportunities. Buried well into the story, Varney tells us

Already, half of the medical schools in the U.S. include no formal training or offer only a single lecture on abortion-related topics, according to a 2020 study by Stanford University researchers, leaving medical residents who may want to incorporate the procedure into their future practice starting from square one, or nearly so.

What do they do?

Increasingly, aspiring obstetricians and gynecologists who want training in abortion procedures are seeking out teaching hospitals and universities that champion that training as a vital skill in women’s health care, creating a crush of qualified applicants for prized spots in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York, according to medical residency directors and students.

On the flip side, some programs deliberately exclude students who are opposed to abortion.”The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington in Seattle used to reserve a handful of spots for residents who wanted to opt out of learning abortion care,” Varney writes, “But two years ago, as access to teaching hospitals offering abortion training narrowed, UW decided to admit only residents committed to providing abortion care.”

Dr. Alyssa Stephenson-Famy, an associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine in the department, told Varney “If we live in a state where abortion care is legal, we need to recruit medical students into our program that want to provide abortion care.” She added, “We should not waste our spots on people not willing to provide abortion.”

Bias aside, Varney has produced an invaluable portrait. You can read her at