Potential Result of Florida’s Six-Week Abortion Ban — A Dearth of Doctors

Florida's Republican legislature didn't consider the unintended consequences

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In the wake of the Trump-packed Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that undid 50 years of Roe v. Wade abortion rights protections, the notoriously short-sighted and dim-witted Republican-run Florida legislature passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which went into effect in May.

Besides being one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country, the ban appears to be affecting the number of medical students applying for residencies in the state and is reducing the number of young physicians who plan to practice in Florida, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

According to an analysis by researchers at the nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges, in the two residency application cycles following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, states with near-total abortion bans and states with gestational limits, such as Florida, saw larger year-over-year declines in residency applicants compared to states where the procedure is legal.

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

States with complete bans logged drops of 3.3% in the 2022-23 application cycle and 4.2% in the past year, while states where abortion remains legal reported declines of 1.9% and 0.6%. Gestational limit states saw downturns of 1.9% for both application cycles. Florida recorded decreases of 0.7% in 2022-23 and 9.7% in the past year. The analysis was conducted before the Sunshine State’s six-week abortion ban took effect in May.

The response to the analysis findings predictably broke along party lines, with Democrats lamenting that young physicians would surely prefer to pursue their chosen specialty in obstetrics and gynecology in states like New York and California with more liberal abortion laws than Florida, and Republicans asserting the findings were based on “assumptions, not facts.”

Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, characterized the findings as “a scare tactic being pushed by radical pro-abortion advocates to gain support for Amendment 4,” a November ballot measure that would extend the term length during which abortions would be allowed to 24 weeks.

However, Passidomo’s sponsorship of a bill in the 2024 legislative session that would subsidize 500 new residency slots in Florida seems to undermine her argument. with a tacit assertion that the state is facing a shortage of physicians.

The fact is, the Free State of Florida, as Gov. Ron DeSantis — whose office has been silent on this topic — calls it, is facing a critical doctor shortage, reported the Times:

In 2030, the supply of family medicine and pediatric doctors is expected to meet only 62% and 75% of demand, respectively, according to a report from the nonprofit Florida TaxWatch, a taxpayer advocacy group in Tallahassee. And the state is projected to have a shortfall of almost 500 OB-GYNs by 2035, according to a report commissioned by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and the Florida Hospital Association. Both reports were released before DeSantis signed the Live Healthy legislation.

During the 2023-24 residency application cycle, Florida saw a year-over-year decrease of 23.3% in OB-GYN applicants, according to the analysis from the Washington, D.C.-based Association of American Medical Colleges. Alabama, Arizona, California, Missouri and Tennessee recorded similar declines.

According to the World Population Review, Florida ranked 33rd among U.S. states with 55 births per 1,000, recording more than 200,000 births in 2021.


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