What if you went to the doctor because your appendix was about to burst, but the doctor told you she couldn’t help you because she didn’t get the training in school to perform an appendectomy? Or what if you were told you had breast cancer and you needed a mastectomy to stop the spread of cancer, but weren’t able to obtain the surgery because your doctor did not know how to perform the procedure? If you are at all like me, you would be very upset. You would be angry that your chosen medical professional was not able to do her job. After all, shouldn’t medical students know how to perform common medical procedures?
Shockingly, this is what a provision introduced in the United States Congress would do – but it applies to abortion procedures. Last Wednesday, an anti-choice measure introduced by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) passed the House with a 234-182 vote. The provision – an amendment to H.B. 1216 (Title: To amend the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations) – prohibits the use of federal funds for graduate medical education from being used to provide abortion or training in the provision of abortion. In other words, Foxx’s measure prevents federal funds from being used to train medical students on how to perform abortion procedures.
As someone who plans to go back to school to become an abortion provider, I find this provision unethical. If I am preparing for a career in which I will be responsible for the life and health of women who will walk through my door with a wide range of conditions, I must be trained in the skills and knowledge to handle each unique situation. I cannot comprehend graduating and becoming a practicing provider without all the education and training I need to offer comprehensive, safe and effective care to my patients to the best of my ability.
Dr. Megan Evans said it best in her post on RH Reality Check—“By preventing valuable funding resources to residency programs across the country, Congress is working to put women’s lives in imminent danger. Whether a pregnancy is electively terminated or medically necessary to save the health or life of a woman, abortion is a legal procedure and physicians should be trained to be able to perform this procedure during their residency. This bill would create incompetent physicians, who would be uncomfortable performing a simple but important procedure.”
As of one week ago, the bill has been received in the Senate, read twice, and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Although I believe the bill will not get the votes to pass out of the Senate, it is important to make our voices heard and show our opposition to this dangerous measure. If we do not speak up against these sorts of attacks, they will continue and may someday cost us the life of someone we love.
Requiring medical students to remain ignorant about how to perform a completely legal health care procedure is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes the health and lives of countless women. This is a message that needs to be heard, no matter what the final votes may be. Your Senators need to hear from you. Contact your Senators right now and tell them how you feel.