It seems that the State of Wisconsin has developed a work-around for the abortion problem. That “problem,” being that abortion is a legal and sometimes medically-necessary procedure, and Wisconsin Republicans would prefer to just pretend that it just isn’t. The solution? The Wisconsin state legislature came up with a bill that would block faculty at University of Wisconsin-Madison from teaching OB-GYN residents how to perform abortions. Sure, just make the doctors learn less. That’ll bring everyone around to the pro-life side of things.
Complex as the whole topic of abortion can often be, this utter idiocy of this bill is actually quite simple. It irresponsibly stops doctors from learning to perform abortions without giving any actual thought to the practical consequences. AB206 (full text available here) provides the following:
“This bill prohibits an employee of the University of Wisconsin System or the
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority from, while in the scope of
his or her employment, performing or assisting in the performance of an abortion;
performing services at a private entity, other than a hospital, where abortions are
performed; or training or receiving training in performing abortions, unless the
training occurs at a hospital.”
The bill is willfully blind on an important fact about abortions: all OB-GYN training programs must include abortions in their curriculum in order to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Wisconsin’s law prohibiting public funding of elective abortions is already a stressor for its medical community; medical students at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Aurora Health Care and the Medical College of Wisconsin are currently forced to access their training through an agreement with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. If AB206 becomes law, OB-GYN residents would then have to change schools entirely if they wanted to actually become certified physicians in their field. In other words, the Wisconsin legislature is totally fine with relegating its medical community to some two-bit backwater practice, as long as it means its politicians can win votes by pretending that Roe v. Wade never happened. Brain drain indeed.
Adopting laws that prevent doctors from learning to properly practice medicine is a bad idea in any area – but it’s especially bad in Wisconsin. There is already a shortage of OB-GYNs in the state, which is why the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently began a rural residency training track, in which it developed strategic partnerships with rural hospitals to better the medical care for rural women.
Not only would AB206 make healthcare worse for those rural women in a general way (after all, the best and brightest doctors aren’t about to start enrolling in unaccredited residency programs), but it specifically sacrifices health of those women who will require abortion as a life-saving measure. While politicians are always quick to qualify their anti-abortion positions, “except when abortion is necessary to protect the life of the mother,” those like Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), the author of AB206, are far from committed to their talking points. Abortions necessary to save a woman’s life are a real thing, even if they do amount to a small percentage of abortions overall, but the Wisconsin legislature is poised to sacrifice the lives of those patients by refusing to properly train its doctors.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued the following statement about AB206:
“Wisconsin women will suffer if this bill passes. Abortion training is required for safe patient care, management of complications of pregnancy and abortion, and to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Maternal mortality in the US is rising and is the worst in the developed world. Legislative interference will close the OB/GYN residency program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health reducing the number of practicing OB/GYNs in Wisconsin.”
If AB206 passes, we’ll have to wait and see what comes next. Perhaps Wisconsin will also stop teaching Roe v. Wade in its law schools so that its attorneys can no longer fight for their clients’ rights or demand legislation that comports with the constitution.
[image via shutterstock]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.