In National Survey, U.S. Ob-Gyns Say Care Has Worsened After Dobbs Decision

WEDNESDAY, June 21, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decision ending a nationwide right to abortion one year ago has made it harder for doctors to treat miscarriages and other pregnancy-related emergencies, a new report shows.

The nonprofit organization KFF surveyed obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) across the United States and found that a majority were concerned about worsening numbers of deaths, maternal health, and racial and ethnic inequities in the wake of the court's landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

KFF surveyed a nationally representative sample of 569 U.S. ob-gyns between March 17 and May 18, 2023.

In states with abortion bans, half said their patients had been unable to obtain an abortion. That was also true for about 24% of patients nationwide, whether abortion was banned in their state or not.

About 4 in 10 doctors in states with bans said they had faced constraints in their ability to care for women experiencing miscarriages and pregnancy‐related emergencies. And about 6 in 10 of doctors in those states expressed concerns about legal risk when making decisions about patient care.

Numbers were similar in states with gestational limits on abortion.

Nationwide, 42% of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about their own legal risk when making decisions about patient care and the need for an abortion.

Large percentages also said the decision had worsened pregnancy-related deaths (64%), as well as racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health (70%).

About 55% said it made it harder to attract new ob-gyns to the field, according to a news release from KFF.

In states where abortion is banned, 60% of the doctors surveyed said their decision‐making autonomy had worsened, and 55% said it has become more difficult to practice within the standards of care.

The decision has also affected contraception usage, the survey showed.

More than half of ob-gyns said more patients have been seeking contraception since the decision. About 43% of respondents reported an increase in patients seeking sterilization, and 47% in those seeking IUDs (intrauterine devices) and implants.

One statistic that was unchanged in the wake of the court ruling was the percentage of office-based ob-gyns who said they provide abortion services. It remained at 18%.

About 30% of ob-gyns practicing in states where abortion is banned said they do not provide, refer or offer any resources for abortion services to their patients. About 48% said they only offer information, such as online resources, to help patients seek out abortion services on their own.

More information

The Pew Research Center has more on abortion in the United States.

SOURCE: KFF, news release, June 21, 2023

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