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MedPage strains in vain to find impact of Dobbs on Ob/Gyn Residency Applications

by | Feb 9, 2024

By Laura Echevarria, Director of Communications and NRL Press Secretary

Media outlets often lean heavily toward the pro-abortion side of the life issue but it’s still surprising to see the twists and turns an outlet will take to follow the agenda of pro-abortion groups and their sympathizers.

Take a recent article that appeared in MedPage Today. The headline reads, “Small Decline Seen in Ob/Gyn Residency Applications in Abortion Ban States.” Based on the headline, a reader would assume that medical school students looking to get into obstetrics/gynecology residency programs for the first year post-Dobbs were avoiding states where pro-life laws have been successfully enacted.

The “cross-sectional study of 2,463 ob/gyn residency program applicants” appeared in JAMA Network Open and was designed

To assess changes in the percentage of applicants to OBGYN residency programs by state based on abortion restrictions in place after the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization (hereafter, Dobbs v Jackson) US Supreme Court decision and examine whether applicants’ preference for programs, as suggested by the distribution of application signals that express higher interest, was associated with abortion bans.

Of the nearly 2500 ob/gyn residency applicants, 85.4 % were female.

There were two things assessed by the study’s authors. The first was the number of actual applicants to ob/gyn residency programs and the second, the stated interest of medical students in ob/gyn residency programs through a signaling program.

While the study authors found that the number of applicants to residency programs was “statistically” down in states with protective laws, it’s not until the third paragraph in the MedPage Today article that the reporter notes that the study authors found that there was actually no difference in the interest medical students had in ob/gyn residency programs in states with protective laws versus states without protective legislation. And then in the next paragraph, the reporter quotes the study’s authors:

“Given that the goal of the program signaling initiative was to enable applicants to demonstrate their genuine interest…our findings in this first year may reflect an indication of true applicant intent and interest in specific programs rather than being reflective of the abortion restrictions,” the authors wrote on the slight decrease in applicants to abortion-restricted states.

The study authors also noted, “It is unclear just what, if any, impact a small decrease in applicants to programs in states with abortion restrictions will have, and this warrants close follow-up.”

And later,

It is also important to note that the overall percentage of applicants who applied to programs in states with abortion restrictions and bans was still high (86.8%). Furthermore, as most OBGYN residency positions are consistently filled, the fact that the ultimate match results were not different for states with and without abortion restrictions and bans is an important marker and needs longer-term analyses. 

Of course, the study’s lead author is “eager” to see how things look in the next few years as additional changes in the ob/gyn application system take effect.

Categories: Dobbs
Tags: Dobbs