While Wisconsin’s GOP legislators brand themselves as pro-life, they certainly do like to play fast and loose with lives of both women and babies around the state.
A public hearing was held last week for a bill that will prevent University of Wisconsin OB-GYN residents from learning about pregnancy termination procedures, a part of the curriculum that is required by the Accreditation Counsel for Graduate Medical Education. But contrary to what Republicans around the state will have you believe, these procedures are not used solely for abortions. Miscarriages later in pregnancy can threaten the mother’s life and require surgical intervention. Without receiving all the necessary training, the Counsel will rightfully deem the residents in UW’s program to be not fully prepared to practice medicine.
Or in other words, congrats, future graduates — you could spend years of your life in a grueling residency that means about as much as a medical degree from Trump University.
This is a particularly big deal for Wisconsin, a state that has worked tirelessly to decrease its high infant mortality rate for decades. In the last 25 years, infant deaths have dropped by a third, but this legislation could potentially roll back those gains, and quickly. Doctors in the state are already overstretched, and 29 of the state’s 72 counties have only one OB-GYN or none at all. Training doctors in Wisconsin is the best chance we have at retaining providers long-term; recruiting doctors from out of state is much more difficult.Dr. Robert Golden, M.D., Dean of UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, called the legislation a “grave concern” and testified on July 18 that it “will result in loss of accreditation of our OB-GYN residency training program.”
While the bill’s sponsors, including Representatives Brandtjen, Brooks, and Kremer, say their justification is about following a 2011 prohibition on taxpayer money paying for abortions, we can’t overlook the unintended impact on women’s health. The Wisconsin Assembly — which lately has taken a concerning interest in influencing curriculum at UW — does not set the accreditation standards for medical schools, and they must respect the expertise of doctors and public health officials who are dedicated to training doctors to save every possible life.
Wondering what you can do? Find your legislators and ask them to oppose AB 206/SB 154. No matter your political or religious ideology, it is a universal Wisconsin value to provide pregnant women with the best possible healthcare.