Abortion Training Scare for Medical Students

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In 2005, a group of researchers from the University of New Mexico published the results of a study examining the extent that abortion education was being offered in US medical schools. The study discovered that “[a]bortion education is limited in US medical schools,” and suggested that the subject at least be covered in all medical schools.

Nearly a decade later not much has changed, according to Sarp Aksel the president of the board of Medical Students for Choice. An international group that seeks to increase access for medical students and residents to this side of OB/GYN education, Askel said, “There are still a lot of institutional barriers to getting the training, even basic training, on abortion at the medical school level.”

The 2005 study found that 45 percent of medical schools offered clinical experience in the third year, but that number has most likely fallen, especially given the recent spate of clinic closures that may limit opportunity for clinical experience. The closures are spurred by laws passed that provide such stringent restrictions most clinics cannot afford to stay open. In September at least 58 clinics had to close down or stop providing the procedure even though the restrictions don’t kick in immediately.

Texas is the largest and most populous state to pass such a law, and the rationale behind it is that by requiring certification as an ambulatory surgery center and access to nearby hospitals, they have the safety of the patients in mind.

However, critics argue that because an abortion is technically a procedure and not full-blown surgery, the restrictions are both unnecessary and simply a ploy by Republican-controlled governments to severely limit the options available to women who wish to terminate a pregnancy. They cite lack of restrictions for similarly invasive procedures like liposuction, colposcopies, and hernia repair.