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Abortion Advocates Want Mandatory Abortion Training in Med. Schools

by Steven Ertelt | WASHINGTON, DC | LIFENEWS.COM | 12/22/03 9:00 AM

National

Abortion Advocates Want Mandatory Abortion Training in Med. Schools

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
December 22, 2003

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — According to recent statistics, abortion practitioners are beginning to become scarce. While this is good news for the pro-life community, pro-abortion groups are using desperate means to push medical students to become abortion practitioners by requiring abortion training in U.S. Medical Schools.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a 1999 study found that 57% of those who performed abortions were 50 years or older. According to Planned Parenthood, the number of abortion practitioners dropped by 14 percent between 1992 and 1996.

As the majority of abortion practitioners reach retirement age or pass away, the number of facilities is also declining and they are increasingly likely to be located in more populated metropolitan areas.

In 2000, 87 percent of U.S. counties had no abortion facilities, and 99 percent of facilities that perform 400 abortions or more per year are located in metropolitan areas. Overall, the 1,819 abortion facilities open in 2000 was 11 percent less than the number available in 1996, and 37 percent less than 1982. 

The shrinking number of abortion facilities requires 25 percent of women to travel 50 miles or more to obtain an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.

It appears that the lucrative abortion industry is running short of a necessary resource to keep the industry alive — people and places to perform abortions.

"The decline in abortion services has also coincided with a decline in routine abortion training in residency programs,” JAMA explains. “The percentage of obstetrics and gynecology residency (OB/GYN) programs that routinely included first trimester abortion training decreased from 23% in 1985 to 12% in 1991. Second trimester abortion training was routinely provided in 21% of programs in 1985 but only 7% of programs in 1991.”

To combat the declining abortion training, a group of medical students formed Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) in 1993. The results of surveys conducted by MSFC are summarized on Planned Parenthood’s web site. They survey found that first- and second-trimester abortion training is available in only 20 percent of OB/GYN residency programs nationwide. Only about 27 percent require first-trimester abortion training, and 22 percent require second-trimester abortion training.

MSFC petitioned the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to make abortion training a required part of OB/GYN residency programs.

"In 1995… the ACGME made more explicit the requirement that all OB/GYN residency programs seeking accreditation provide routine abortion training,” states the JAMA article. “With respect to induced abortion, residency programs are required to provide ‘access to experience’ and residency programs and/or individual residents with religious or moral objections are allowed to opt out of induced abortion training. This ‘access’ can be provided as either an elective or a required rotation and, unlike other OB/GYN procedures, the mandate does not require that residents perform induced abortion procedures."

The following year, Congress adopted the pro-life Coats Amendment was adopted which said residency programs will be considered accredited by the federal government or any state or local government that receives federal funds, even if the programs fail to comply with the abortion training requirements.

While the Coats amendment saved residency programs from losing federal, state, or local funding if they chose not to include abortion training, programs are still able to pressure students to take the training, even though a “conscience clause,” for students who morally object to opt out, exists in the accreditation requirements.

In 2002, New York City required OB/GYN residents in the city’s 11 public hospitals to be trained in medical and surgical abortion. That same year, California enacted a state law that required abortion training at the state’s 6 public medical schools. California institutions that decide not to teach abortion must provide opportunity for residents to receive the training elsewhere.

Both laws provided “conscience clauses” for objecting students to avoid the required training. But, they may not cover everything.

“While different states have conscience clause laws of their own, students are often in jeopardy,” Anne DeLong of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) told LifeNews.com. “We get calls from interns and residents being required to offer emergency contraception, and they refuse at their peril.

“Their careers are at stake,” DeLong concluded.

For this reason the CMA, the U.S. Bishop’s Conference, and other pro-life groups are championing The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1397), sponsored by pro-life pro-life Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) and pro-life Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) in the House. The legislation was approved the House last year, but was not considered by the Senate. Earlier this month, it was reintroduced to the House for consideration in 2004.

The bill provides clarity to an existing pro-life law, passed in 1996, to protect all health care facilities from being required to perform abortions. After some courts wrongly interpreted the law to apply to only some groups of health care providers, ANDA will ensure that all entities and individuals in the health profession can opt out of performing or allowing abortions.

President Bush supports the legislation and would sign it if passed by Congress.

"Hospitals and health care professionals should not be forced to perform or participate in abortions,” the Bush administration said in a statement. "This legislation makes clear that they may not be subjected to discrimination by the federal government, or by any state or local government … because they oppose or choose not to participate in abortions or abortion training.”

While abortion advocates want medical schools to require abortion training, they also want to go further.

"To date, educational and legislative initiatives affecting training in abortion have focused almost exclusively on OB/GYN residency programs,” notes the JAMA article. “A 1995 study found that the vast majority (71%-88%) of family practice residency programs did not include abortion training.

“Increasing the number of family physicians who perform abortions has the potential to greatly improve access to this service and address some the current geographic and rural-urban disparities,” JAMA concludes, endorsing the pro-abortion efforts.

But one pro-life group thinks abortion advocates will have a hard time finding new recruits from the college ranks.

American Collegians for Life points to polls showing that more college students are pro-life and less interested in protecting abortion rights.

"College students are beginning to realize that women deserve better options than abortion,” said Kelly Kroll, president of American Collegians for Life. “In fact, support for abortion among college students has fallen from 67% ten years ago to a thin majority of 54% today. With abortion’s legacy of anguish, it’s no wonder medical students have no interest in becoming an abortionist. After all, people study medicine to help others."

A New York Times/CBS News poll in January found that among people 18 to 29, only 39 percent agree that abortion should be generally available to those who want it, down from 48 percent in 1993.

That doesn’t bode well for Planned Parenthood administrators looking to fill staff positions.

Related Sites:
Medical Students for Life: http://www.physiciansforlife.org/medical_students.htm
American Collegians for Life: http://www.aclife.org
Catholic Medical Association: http://www.cathmed.org