ICYMI: Kemp’s Extreme Abortion Ban Risks Worsening Physician Shortage

August 16, 2022

Medical Students are Choosing to Attend Residency in States Without Abortion Bans

With Gov. Brian Kemp’s extreme abortion ban in effect, Georgia medical students are now rethinking practicing medicine in the Peach State due to the rectrictive new law, which risks worsening the state’s physician shortage. With Georgia already ranking a dismal 39th in the nation for physicians per capita and projections showing a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, Kemp’s radical ban on abortion stands to exacerbate the shortage, threatening the state’s health care infrastructure and Georgians’ health.

Despite wanting to work as primary care physicians in underserved and rural communities across Georgia, the medical students fear facing criminal charges for providing medically-necessary care, because politicians like Kemp — with no medical training or expertise — have arbitrarily decided which care is legal under state law.

Georgia OB/GYNs, Dr. Tiffany Hailstorks and Dr. Megan Cohen discuss how Kemp’s abortion ban will worsen the state’s physician shortage.

The issues raised by the medical students echoed problems raised by Georgia doctors during a panel discussion last week, where the physicians shared how Kemp’s abortion ban is detrimental to the training of new doctors, especially OB/GYNs, and worsens Georgia’s physician and nurse shortage.

Read more from Athens Banner-Herald: To Prevent a Physician Shortage, Legislators Need to Ease Up Abortion Regulations

  • We are three female students attending Georgia’s only public medical school (whose views we do not represent). The three of us come from medically underserved areas in Georgia that house more Waffle Houses than hospitals.
  • However, recent legislation has made it increasingly difficult for students like us to justify returning to our home counties and states to practice medicine.
  • And because the law provides “personhood” status to fetuses, it’s also unclear what would happen if we performed an abortion we deemed medically necessary, but courts or lawmakers decide later it wasn’t.
  • Unlike medical residents or physicians licensed in certain states, we students haven’t begun our careers yet. We still have some latitude when choosing where to practice. Why would we elect to serve an underserved county in a state that may criminalize our medical care?
  • The organization Medical Students for Choice supports chapters on medical school campuses and residency programs in 28 countries. All four allopathic medical schools in Georgia – including ours – host a chapter.
  • Even though about 20% of our country’s population lives in rural areas, only 9% of physicians practice in those communities. Ethnic and racial minorities, especially those in rural areas, have an even higher barrier to healthcare.
  • We don’t want to be a part of the physician shortage problem. The three of us currently intend to pursue careers in primary care, but current legislation is making it increasingly harder to give up our own medical safety and continue making the altruistic choice.
  • Amidst a pandemic, we slogged through the process of applying to medical school and chose to attend a public school whose mission is to serve Georgians. Soon, we will be doctors and will decide where we want to practice medicine. If Georgia and other states with large underserved populations aim to attract a diverse physician population, then they must create environments where physicians feel safe enough to practice.
  • We ask them to address the fact that the very population they are seeking are the ones staunchly opposed to their state legislation.

More on Brian Kemp’s extreme abortion ban:

  • Under Kemp’s agenda, victims of rape or incest could be forced to give birth. Kemp has repeatedly stated his staunch opposition to any exceptions for rape or incest in an abortion ban.
  • Health care professionals are warning that the governor’s new restrictions will “pile on challenges” for patients and providers in an already “tough system” to navigate.


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