This article is cross-posted with permission from Emily's List.
A woman in a small town in the Midwest enters an emergency room in the middle of the night accompanied by her husband. She is well into her second trimester of pregnancy and is complaining of high fevers, severe cramping, and chills. An ultrasound shows a fetus without a heartbeat in her uterus. Sadly, her pregnancy is not viable, and the fetus is causing a massive infection in her body. This infection could lead to septic shock and possibly death. The only solution is an emergency D&E (dilation and evacuation) to save her life. However, not one of the OB/GYNs on call that night is competent enough to successfully complete this procedure. They were all trained in residency programs that did not train in D&E procedures or could not offer enough of these procedures for any of their graduating residents to be confident in performing this important skill.
One OB/GYN in the group had done this procedure a handful of times and is chosen to complete the minor operation and save the woman’s life. As she prepares, she remembers a friend of hers from medical school who trained at a residency program that provided comprehensive education surrounding abortion procedures-including second trimester terminations. She called this friend in the middle of the night, explained the situation, and performed the procedure as her colleague guided her through on speaker phone in the operating room. The procedure was a success and the woman survived without any complications.
This is a true story.
Imagine if her colleague never answered the phone. Imagine if there was no one else to call. Would this woman have died because we have failed to train our physicians in the most basic of procedures? The Foxx Amendment (attached to H.R. 1216, which passed in the House on Wednesday) works to do just that. 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 I prepare to start my own residency in OB/GYN, I look forward to my training years ahead. I want to leave residency knowing that whoever walks through that door with whatever obstetrical or gynecological ailment, I know that I have been trained to the best of my ability to offer safe and effective care to my patients. This bill would prevent that. By preventing my residency program from training me in a basic medical procedure, I would not graduate from residency a well, trained, well-rounded physician.
As physicians, patients, and family members, we must not allow members of Congress to determine training for future physicians across this country. We must speak out against the dangerous Foxx Amendment and demand our physicians be trained in life saving medical procedures for all women. This includes your mother, your sister, your wife, your friend, your daughter. Because you or your loved one would never want to be the patient whose physician can’t help you because Congress prevented it.
Without providers, there is no choice.