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Abortion restrictions and medical residency applications
  1. Kellen Mermin-Bunnell1,
  2. Ariana M Traub1,
  3. Kelly Wang2,
  4. Bryan Aaron3,
  5. Louise Perkins King4,5,
  6. Jennifer Kawwass6
  1. 1Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Department of Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  4. 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  6. 6Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ms. Kellen Mermin-Bunnell, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; kmermin{at}


Residency selection is a challenging process for medical students, one further complicated in the USA by the recent Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs) decision over-ruling the federal right to abortion. We surveyed medical students to examine how Dobbs is influencing the ideological, personal and professional factors they must reconcile when choosing where and how to complete residency.

Between 6 August and 22 October 2022, third-year and fourth-year US medical students applying to US residency programmes were surveyed through social media and direct outreach to medical schools. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from 494 responses was performed to assess downstream effects of Dobbs on residency applicants’ family, health and career choices.

Most respondents said changes in abortion access would likely or very likely influence their decision regarding location of considered residency programme (76.9%), where to start a family (72.2%) and contraceptive planning for them or their partner (57.9%). Cis-gender females were more influenced by Dobbs regarding where (5 (4, 5) p<0.001) and when (3 (3, 5) p<0.001) to start a family. In qualitative responses, medical trainees highlighted the importance of abortion access for their patients, themselves and their loved ones.

Medical trainees are incorporating state abortion access into their residency programme choices. Future physicians care about both the quality of care they will be able to provide and their own health. For personal and professional reasons, reproductive healthcare access is now a key factor in residency match decisions.

  • Abortion - Induced
  • Education
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Women's rights

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  • KM-B and AMT are joint first authors.

  • Twitter @nellmmb

  • KM-B and AMT contributed equally.

  • Contributors KMB and AMT: survey conceptualisation, survey distribution, data collection, manuscript writing, reviewed and edited the manuscript, guarantor. KW: statistical analysis, reviewed and edited the manuscript. BA: survey distribution, reviewed and edited the manuscript. LPK: reviewed and edited the manuscript. JK: survey conceptualisation, reviewed and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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