We have a big medical mess that will cost women their lives and physicians their competency. That realization is what stopped me in my tracks as I listened to Dr. Toni M. Ganzel, dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine speak to the Kentucky General Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary.
Kentucky is a “trigger law” state, meaning it outlawed abortion when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Kentucky committee is concerned that the University of Louisville has been funding a staff member to perform abortions with public money.
Ganzel stressed to the committee that the university does not perform abortions at UofL Hospital or any UofL medical facility. She clarified that no university funds are spent on abortions. The university complies with all of the laws, both state and federal.
However, and this is where it gets messy, as an accredited medical school, UofL provides training, or access to training, in abortion procedures as part of its OB-GYN residency program.
Every medical program in the country does this. For UofL, the training is conducted at a nonuniversity facility but is required of all OB-GYN residents in the program.
Since 2016, the university has had a departmental support agreement with EMW Women’s Surgical Center, one of only two abortion clinics in Kentucky. Both are in Louisville.
Knowing how to perform an abortion is required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. If UofL did not provide this training, its medical students would have to leave the state to receive it, requiring additional time and expense.
Surgeons need these skills to care for their patients.
Anti-abortion activists cannot deny that abortion is a necessary component in women’s health care. To do so would admit that losing a full-grown woman due to complications or an unviable pregnancy is simply collateral damage they are willing to accept in their quest to save a developing embryo.
The United States faces a projected shortage of up to 124,000 physicians within 12 years, according to a report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Of these physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists predicts a shortage of up to 22,000 OB-GYNs by 2050.
What will happen to medical programs in women’s health if students have to travel out of state to complete their program? If your state is one that outlaws abortion, what will this mean for the education prospects of your otherwise stellar medical programs? What will this mean for the women who need access to competent OB-GYNs?
Ganzel stated that if the University of Lousiville program did not comply with the mandates for accreditation, that school would be first put on probation and then eventually lose its OB-GYN program.
He also noted that residents can choose to obtain their abortion training through computer modules. This prospect as a solution terrifies me. I do not want to fly with a pilot who has only landed a plane in a simulator, and I certainly do not want my surgeon to have only performed a lifesaving procedure via computer modulation.
Please. No. Women’s health care cannot become dispensable.
Almost 50 years of medical care stands on the precedent that was Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court’s decision has complicated and undermined every protocol, every medical standard and every right that Roe v. Wade has touched since 1973.
— Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a wife, mother of three kids, and the opinion editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisville Courier-Journal. She can be contacted at email@example.com, followed through her YouTube channel and on Twitter: @WriterBonnie, or click here to learn more about her. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.