Ob/Gyn Board Certification Exam Stays Virtual in Light of DobbsJuly 15, 2022
The American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ABOG) will again make its board certification exam virtual this year, partly because of safety concerns following the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
The decision is intended to save prospective ob/gyns from having to travel to the organization’s Dallas headquarters. Many advocates had expressed concerns about travel to the state because of its strict abortion laws, stating it could pose danger to the safety and well-being of clinicians who provide abortion care, as well as for pregnant people.
“Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country and concerns regarding the U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ABOG has decided to transition the 2022 Specialty Certifying Exam to a remote format for candidates,” the organization wrote in a statement.
ABOG added that more information and instructions resulting from this change will be released to candidates soon.
Prospective ob/gyns typically travel to Texas to take board certification exams at ABOG’s base, but the test has been held remotely for the past few years because of the pandemic.
Since the last time the board exam was held in person, the legal landscape of abortion has changed drastically.
Last September, Texas enacted Senate Bill 8 (SB8), a “fetal heartbeat” law prohibiting abortion after around 6 weeks of gestation and deputizing private citizens to sue people who perform or assist with abortion procedures. Additionally, just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over federal rules requiring abortions to be performed in medical emergencies, including those to save the life of the mother.
Approximately 500 ob/gyns signed a petition last month, requesting that ABOG administer the exam virtually this year. The petition stated that mandated travel to Texas “poses an unacceptable risk to our personal safety.”
“Many board-eligible Ob/Gyns have abortions on our case lists, particularly those that center family planning in their practice,” the ob/gyns stated in their petition. “Due to the ‘aid and abet’ clause included in SB8, we may be targeted for legal or political retribution.”
Additionally, the letter emphasized the danger for pregnant people traveling to Texas for the board exam, calling it an “unconscionable risk.”
“Should any pregnancy-related complications occur while in Texas, the full range of evidence-based management options are prohibited by law,” the petition stated.
ABOG’s action to transition the board exams to a virtual format was celebrated by reproductive health advocates and ob/gyns who signed the petition.
“ABOG’s decision to make its board examinations virtual this year was very much needed,” said Stephanie Alimena, MD, a gynecologic oncology fellow from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who signed the petition.
“In light of the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, many obstetrician gynecologists who recently finished their residency training (including myself) did not feel it was right to travel to a state which so vehemently opposes women’s rights for an important board examination,” Alimena told MedPage Today in an email.
Michal Elovitz, MD, a physician scientist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist based in Pennsylvania, called the decision “tremendous,” stating that she hopes the board preserves a remote format for specialty exams next April as well.
“We are in very scary times,” Elovitz, who signed the petition to ABOG, told MedPage Today. “I think it is really important that we don’t put pregnant individuals nor providers for pregnant individuals at further risk, and I think there is a risk with those individuals going to a state like Texas.”