Alabama experiencing shortage of OBGYN providers

According to data from America Health Rankings, Alabama is at the bottom when it comes to cervical cancer deaths and maternal deaths. Now, there are concerns the new law could scare doctors away, and the lack of care could get even worse.

Posted: May 17, 2019 6:00 PM
Updated: May 17, 2019 7:01 PM

There are concerns about women's healthcare in light of Alabama's new abortion law. Before the developments this week, Alabama already ranked at the bottom of the list in women's health.

According to data from America Health Rankings, Alabama is at the bottom when it comes to cervical cancer deaths and maternal deaths. Now, there are concerns the new law could scare doctors away, and the lack of care could get even worse. 

"I think many doctors are not going to want to come here, because they will not be allowed to exercise their best judgment and their training," Nance Morris, who lives in Huntsville, said. 

Alabama is already seeing a shortage in doctors focusing on women's health. According to Human Rights Watch, there was a severe shortage and lack of women's specialists throughout the state in 2018, especially in the middle portion of Alabama, called the black belt.

An OBGYN, Dr. Willie Parker, says the shortage is the result of a perfect storm. Doctors say they would rather work in bigger cities with higher populations. He also pointed to the escalated workload in the field, additional years of studying and women's preference for female doctors, over males. 

"People who are aspired to practice medicine feel threatened even in terms of their livelihood or now with changes in the abortion law," Dr. Parker said. 

Under Alabama's new abortion law, a doctor could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. WAAY 31 asked Dr. Parker if the idea of practicing in a different state has crossed his mind. He shook his head and said the state needs his help.

"As someone from here, if I couldn't make the women people of this state a priority, who would?" Dr. Parker said. 

Alabama is just one of many southern states facing a shortage of OBGYN providers. Georgia and Mississippi are experiencing it as well.

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