Ob-gyn residents without abortion training feel less prepared to treat miscarriages

New research in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that obstetrics and gynecology residents in programs without abortion training feel less prepared to offer care for people experiencing early pregnancy loss.

With the Supreme Court signaling the end of Roe v. Wade and state legislatures enacting more than 100 abortion restrictions this year alone, lack of training could have serious implications for people who seek care for a miscarriage.

“Abortion training is already hard to get for many residents around the country, and it’s only going to get worse with Roe hanging in the balance,” said Dr. Sarah Horvath, lead author on the paper. “This research shows the widespread collateral damage of these abortion restrictions for patient access to competent miscarriage care.”

Comprehensive, evidence-based care for early pregnancy loss requires the ability to counsel patients about treatment options and support their decision by offering the option to wait, or to manage the miscarriage medically or surgically. “The skills used for providing abortion care are the same ones necessary to care for someone experiencing early pregnancy loss,” said Dr. Jema Turk, Director of Evaluation for the Ryan Residency Program. “When abortion training isn’t required, ob-gyn residents in programs are less like to say that they plan to provide comprehensive care in early pregnancy loss in the future.”

“Early pregnancy loss is common, and ob-gyns have to be able to support people by offering all appropriate treatment options during an emotionally challenging time,” said Dr. Nikki Zite, physician and co-author. “If we’re sending residents out into the world less prepared to provide this type of care, patients might not be offered all the options because their physician lacks the confidence to provide them.”

“As states become increasingly hostile to abortion access, it’s imperative that people understand how essential abortion training is and find a way to get these residents trained,” said Dr. Jody Steinauer, Director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. “Without this training, people around the country will lose access to not only abortion care, but also to comprehensive, patient-centered care for pregnancy loss.”