ob-gyn exam

House May Restrict Teaching Abortion Techniques

You are pregnant, happy, and anticipating a new addition to your family when you receive the terrible news that something’s gone wrong. Your baby’s heart has stopped beating and must be removed from your uterus, in part, to save your own life. It’s a tragic and emotional situation, one we all hope never to experience. But if it were to happen, I’m sure you’d want a competent and compassionate doctor who could perform the necessary procedures. Unfortunately, there aren’t many doctors trained to perform what is, essentially, an abortion procedure and if some members of congress have their way, there will be even fewer still.

Late last month, by a vote of 234-182, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Foxx Amendment, which “prohibit[s] the use of funds provided for graduate medical education from being used to provide abortion or training in the provision of abortion.” Representative Virginia Foxx (R- NC), the measure’s author, asserted that she wanted to make it “crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train healthcare providers to perform abortion procedures.”

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, 85% of medical students in the U.S. require financial aid and the federal government is the largest aid source. The Foxx Amendment would make it so that schools receiving those federal dollars couldn’t teach abortion procedures, thereby crippling the ability of our emerging medical professionals to not only perform legal abortions but to save women’s lives. As it stands, the pool of doctors who are trained and experienced in abortion procedures is small and diminishing. Check out these startling stats courtesy of Medical Students for Choice:

  • Despite the fact that abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the US, almost half of all graduating Ob/Gyn residents have never performed a first trimester abortion.
  • 2% of all Ob-Gyns perform over 50% of abortions in the U.S.
  • 72% of Ob-Gyn residency programs do not train all residents in abortion procedures.
  • Currently, only 5% of all abortions are performed in hospitals, where most medical students and residents are trained.

Whether you’re pro-choice or unequivocally against abortion in any case, this legislation will have consequences that go far beyond the usual debates around a woman’s right to choose or when life begins. Physicians will need to be educated in abortion techniques to help patients experiencing a miscarriage, to remove the placenta or other latent birth tissue that can cause serious infection, or when removal of the fetus will save a woman’s life. Even if medical students never plan on performing abortions, it’s in the public interest to have them trained in the event of an emergency.

I see this as one more in a line of recent attacks on federal funding for abortion that, by the way, is already is already illegal by an act of Congress called the Hyde Amendment. I fail to see how this serves the greater good and not just the social agendas of a few elected officials. While Representative Foxx says, “My amendment is designed to protect life,” she ignores the potential loss of life for women who could die without these procedures and doctors to perform them. It’s unlikely that this measure will pass the Senate but I still find it disturbing that the House is willing to throw women under the bus yet again. I just hope there will always be a trained medical professional available to provide care should I find myself in a heartbreaking situation like the one above.

Last 5 posts by Nakia D. Hansen