Senate To Consider Bill To Require State Medical Schools To Teach Abortion Procedures to OB/GYN Residents
The Senate this week plans to debate a bill (AB 2194) that would require accredited California medical schools to teach abortion procedures to OB/GYN residents, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The legislation, which the Assembly passed earlier this year, would allow medical schools or residents to "opt out if they have moral or religious objections" but would require medical schools that decide not to teach abortion procedures to ensure that OB/GYN residents can receive the instruction at a different institution. Although the bill does not establish standards for the instruction, supporters said that the legislation "sends a message that abortion training is integral to the education of young doctors." More than half of OB/GYN residency programs nationwide do not teach abortion procedures. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires medical schools to teach abortion procedures to OB/GYN residents. However, many schools do not adhere to the requirement, and those that do have "huge disparities in how they carry that out." Many schools provide the instruction as an elective course, and some require residents to travel to different institutions to receive the instruction.
Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who sponsored the bill, said that the legislation would ensure the availability of providers in the state who perform abortion procedures. "Most residency programs have ignored that this is a procedure to which every woman has a constitutional right," she said. More than one-third of California counties have no abortion providers, and the number of providers in the state dropped 11% between 1992 and 1996. Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills), a physician, said, "It's important that we have medical professionals now and in the future who are well-trained in performing medical procedures." However, the California Pro-Life Council, opposes the bill. Jan Carroll, legislative analyst for the council, said, "Obviously our fundamental objection is we think it's offensive that the state should require medical students be trained in killing their patients. It stretches credulity to argue there is a shortage of abortionists in California." Gov. Gray Davis (D) has not taken a position on the legislation (Guido, San Jose Mercury News, 8/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.