New Study Examines Changes to the Abortion and Contraceptive Workforce During the Pandemic

Washington (Nov 1, 2022) - The pandemic put incredible strain on the health care workforce, including physicians who provide abortion and contraceptive care. New research shows how this workforce has changed throughout the pandemic. The study also raises implications for the future, especially now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.

The study found that the number of physicians providing abortion and contraceptive services decreased in 2020, but rebounded in 2021, except for the number of physicians providing contraception care, which has not come back to pre-pandemic levels. 

However, there was a noted change in the workforce itself, with more advanced clinicians, such as assistant physicians and nurse practitioners, providing contraceptive care. Researchers also found that procedural abortion services did not distinctly decrease in early 2020, but rather have been steadily decreasing over the course of these three years, while medication abortions have been increasing. 

“The abortion and contraceptive workforce has been consistently losing practitioners for a while, which leaves people with less access to these important services,” Julia Strasser, lead researcher and director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health at the George Washington University  Milken Institute School of Public Health, said. “Further research is needed to better understand how the Dobbs v. Jackson decision will further impact this workforce in the future and the implications it will have on people’s reproductive health.” 

Strasser and her team have previously published a research letter about their work to create the first comprehensive national data warehouse of the contraception and abortion provider workforce.

Changes in the Clinical Workforce Providing Contraception and Abortion Care in the US, 2019-2021” will be published on Nov 1, 2022 in JAMA Network Open.