It is bad enough that certain states such as Iowa are well on their way to making abortion illegal for women at any gestational age. But what is the other negative impact of these antiabortion pieces of legislation? Well, when providers cannot practice to the full extent of their personal philosophy, or even the full extent of the federal law, they lose a big incentive to work in certain areas. For pro-choice providers, not being able to provide the abortion care that they are passionate about can drive them out of the state in the search for better employment opportunities.
Iowa recently signed the strictest abortion law in the nation. This law which makes any abortion after 6 weeks of gestation illegal effectively makes abortion illegal for all women since most women do not find out that they are pregnant until after 6 weeks. The majority of women do not even notice that they have missed their period until after this point. For Iowa, a state who already has a low number of women’s health providers, taking away a service that many providers feel passionate about being able to provide can drive them out of the state in search of other career opportunities. Yet this isn’t the only reason why this bill would continue to lower these healthcare provider numbers, and the issue is a bit more big picture than this.
Another problem is that since abortion is still legal federally, Universities such as the University of Iowa’s OB-GYN’s residency program would have to violate the requirements to receive accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. As a spokesperson for the University of Iowa recently said, “In order to receive ACGME accreditation, UI’s obstetrics and gynecology program is required to provide family planning training, including all forms of contraception and training in the provision of abortion, if the student so chooses. If this law was passed, limitations on abortions in Iowa would eliminate the ability to meet training requirements.”
So while people outside of the state of Iowa may view this as a local problem, it is also having a national effect. Sure, providers may leave Iowa to go work in other states, but this law would also have a direct effect on the quality of education and training that physicians receive. When we look back in history, a similar thing occurred when abortion was previously illegal at the federal level. Driven largely by the medical establishment, physicians sought to make abortion illegal in order to limit the ability of other types of providers (who were often involved in abortions) to care for patients. Now, making abortion illegal is limiting women’s access to reproductive healthcare throughout the country by creating potential road blocks in training physicians.
This is forcing the University of Iowa to look at alternative options for training their residents so that they can be equipped to provide comprehensive care to their patients. One alternative they are looking into is opening a clinic just across the border in Illinois. Forming partnerships with out of state universities might be a solution in the meantime, but it would be an expensive one. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are only 1.49 OB-GYNs for every 10,000 Iowa residents. This dramatically low number also means that physicians get burnt out trying to provide care to high numbers of patients, and thus the likelihood that quality of care decreases is high. Making abortion illegal at the state level impacts the nation and the provision of healthcare for all women.