Petition Closed
Petitioning Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Don't Ban Wisconsin Medical Students From Life-Saving Training

Medical students and residents at the University of Wisconsin pursuing OB/GYN studies may not be able to complete their training -- and the school faces the prospect of losing its residency accreditation for training doctors in this specialty. Why? Because medical students and residents are being banned from learning the abortion and miscarriage management techniques that save women’s lives.

Anti-choice politicians in Wisconsin tacked on a provision to the governor’s budget bill stating that state funds cannot be used for abortion care. Now, anti-choice groups in the state are pressuring Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to enforce the statute by stopping all abortion training at UW.

But UW Health is fighting to ensure their students and residents receive comprehensive, high-quality education. The UW Hospital has stated disagreement with the anti-choice groups’ negative interpretation of the law, and emphasized the fact that UW Hospital does not receive state funding. In addition, UW Hospital itself does not even fund the abortion training portion of the OB/GYN curriculum.

OB/GYN students and residents assist in elective abortion procedures to learn the skills needed to address a life-threatening pregnancy or incomplete miscarriage. Delivery of a non-viable fetus after a miscarriage is identical to a standard abortion procedure. Future physicians who have no intention of providing elective abortions still must know this simple procedure in order to save the life of a pregnant woman who enters their care.

Medical student Jessica Boland explains the harm of shutting down training:

I am a third year medical student in the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, a program that recruits students with rural backgrounds to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in order to increase the number of physicians who choose to practice in underserved areas of our state.  I am considering a career in OB/GYN, and I hope to be able to apply to a residency program in Wisconsin, where I can be trained in complete, live-saving reproductive care that includes miscarriage management and medically indicated pregnancy termination.  Putting our state’s OB/GYN residency programs in jeopardy to satisfy radical ideologues is more than just an inconvenience to me, though. It is dangerous for Wisconsin families. The location where a doctor trains is a major influence on where she or he eventually practices, and if we lose residency programs we risk losing obstetric and gynecological services that are already in short supply in many rural areas. If we are going to keep Wisconsin’s reputation for excellence, and attract talented professionals to our medical schools and residency programs, we must show that we answer to our patients, not to political extremists.

Please sign this petition to tell Attorney General Van Hollen that this law is unfounded and could potentially endanger the lives of the women of Wisconsin. Allow UW to continue to train our future doctors to provide comprehensive healthcare.

Letter to
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen
I am writing to express my opposition to the request from Pro-Life Wisconsin for you to end abortion training at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

The statute recently passed to stop abortion procedures from being performed with state funds does not accurately apply to UW Hospital, which has made clear its disagreement with the Pro-Life Wisconsin interpretation of the law. To start, UW Health has stated that it is an independent authority that does not operate using state funds. It does not pay for abortion procedures nor does it even fund the abortion training portion of its OB/GYN program. To use this law to stop Wisconsin medical students and residents from receiving appropriate training would be unfounded and wrong.

In a press release, Pro-Life Wisconsin stated: “Residents need to be instructed how to save, preserve and respect life.” This is exactly what the OB/GYN residents at UW Health are trained to do. Whether dealing with a life-threatening pregnancy or a miscarriage where the nonviable fetus needs to be removed from the woman’s body, “abortion” training is a necessary medical procedure that any OB/GYN doctor must know. Without providing this standard training, UW can expect to lose its OB/GYN residency accreditation.

In response to pressure from anti-choice advocates, I wanted to register my support for proper training of OB/GYN students, the independence of UW Hospital and Clinics, and the continuation of having qualified women’s health professionals in Wisconsin. I hope you will agree that stopping comprehensive OB/GYN training would be an extremely harmful error.


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