If you have "no place to go," come here!

House bans funding of abortion training



By a 234-182 vote, the House of Representatives passed an amendment last Wednesday, sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) that would prohibit teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions.

Yes, you read that right. Residents would no longer learn how to "perform abortions," not if their facility wants to continue receiving federal funding for training physicians. The anti-women movement might be forced to concede exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to maternal health, but those can be safely ignored if no one knows how to perform those procedures.

Now, in typical Republican fashion, they've gone and passed this... this ... monstrosity, without considering the larger implications.

Yes, preventing a resident from learning to perform a D&C (dilation and curettage) or D&X (dilation and extraction) means they will not be qualified to perform abortions.

However. It also means that future physicians will not have the training needed to save women's lives in an emergency. To quote a commenter at Pharyngula:

Both of these are common procedures that are used for a number of conditions that have nothing to do with induced abortions. Or even with pregnancy. You could do a D&C to scrape away an abnormal uterine lining that causes a woman to bleed too heavily during menstruation. Or you could do it to obtain a sample for biopsy if you suspect cancer. Or you could use it to remove the placenta in cases of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage. It just so happens that you can also use it to deliberately terminate pregnancy, by removing the fetus. But the procedure itself has any number of other uses, and therefore needs to be taught in med school even if the school has a strict no-abortion policy.

Proving how little they know -- and/or just how little they care -- 234 members of the House voted to ban the teaching of medical procedures that are vital in saving the lives of women who have miscarried, or have complications that endanger their health, or who aren't even pregnant.

Just as "laparoscopic surgery" can mean having one's tubes tied, or appendix removed or a suspected cancer biopsied, so to are a D&C and D&X medical procedures that can be used for a variety of medical reasons, one of which is terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

Mikki Kendall tells her abortion story over at Salon, one of those "exceptions" where a planned pregnancy went terribly wrong, and despite hemorrhaging and a diagnosis of fetal death, she went through hell and nearly died because the on-call doctor "didn't do abortions. Ever." Not even to save the life of a woman whose fetus was dead.

I am one of those fortunate enough to have had a "good" experience after a prenatal loss. In 1988, I miscarried at 15 weeks and had a D&C to save my life. I had caring, competent providers who gave me the medical care and the emotional support I needed. My OB/GYN gently helped me to understand this pregnancy was lost, and explained what needed to happen in order to prevent further blood loss and/or infection. He was even thoughtful enough to admit me to the surgical floor and not L&D. (Due to blood loss, I was required to stay overnight for observation.)

This amendment (which I can only hope has no chance of passing in the Senate) makes me window-breaking, riot-starting furious. Were this ban to go into effect, women like Mikki Kendall and myself would be left to die, our living children left motherless, our spouses widowed, our extended families devastated -- all to "save a life" that was already gone. All of which leaves out the women who will be forced to carry healthy pregnancies to term against their will.

It makes me furious that we continue to see our LEGAL right to a medical procedure eroded day after day.

I'm angry that we women have to keep telling our stories, all but begging people to understand how deeply personal, difficult, and individual the decision is. As Mikki Kendall says, "You shouldn't need to know the details of why a woman aborts to trust her to make the best decision for herself."

I'm furious that women have to keep demanding the right to make our own choices, based on our individual circumstances.

I'm angry that we must keep fighting the mental image of abortion -- the perfectly formed, viable "babies" -- that the forced-birth contingent has planted in the country's collective mind, when 88% of abortions (Guttmacher) are performed in the first 12 weeks -- long before viability is a consideration.

I'm furious that we must force these women-hating monsters to look at the living women who have and will die as a result of their callousness.

I'm angry that we must keep pointing out the hypocrisy of people who claimed single-payer healthcare would mean allowing the government make people's medical decisions for them, while fighting to make sure the government ensures women have no choice in their own reproductive care.

But we do.

We have to keep fighting, have to keep waging this war because the result of Virginia Foxx's sickening amendment and every other anti-choice piece of legislation is this: women will die.

But that's pretty much their goal, isn't it?

No votes yet


nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

my grandmother had a D&C. Unless she had a far more active social life than anybody suspected, it wasn't for an abortion.

Her doctor recommended the D&C. He said that they could put her on heavy pain meds while she died which might draw out to as much as several weeks, or do the D&C, which ran risks given her age and physical condition. The family agreed to the D&C. She lived another seven years.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

There are a number of non-pregnancy related reasons for these procedures. Truly, the only reason for passing such a bill would be to maximize harm to women of all ages.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I hope doctors and med students are as outraged as women should be. We don't need crackpots in congress dictating medical education practices when they clearly don't have a clue.

The fact that something like this is even being discussed -- not to mention passed in the House! -- makes me think this country is a lost cause.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

from the president of Medical Students for Choice. In part:

As a member of Medical Students for Choice, I am dedicated to ensuring that comprehensive reproductive health care is a standard part of all medical education and training. The government funds medical training becauser we all benefit from fully-trained physicians. But what constitutes approppriate reproductive health care should be determined by medical science and patients, not Congress.[sic] [my emphasis]

So far, I haven't seen anything from the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health (PRCH) or any pro-choice organization other than NARAL.

I have to agree with you -- the idea that this was even brought up, much less passed by the House is simply staggering. We're returning to the Dark Ages at an accelerated pace.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

See here. Not directly on point, but this is the direction we're moving - having to set up alternative funding. Now that's a lot more difficult when you're talking about medical training.

And here's a quick reminder from Dahlia Lithwick about how all those abortions rights groups are essentially abandoning the fight because they're scared Roe will be overturned. The practical effect, of course, is the same as if Roe had been overturned since it denies millions of women access to reproductive health services. I'm not sure why I should donate money to any of these organizations beyond monies that go directly to fund actual medical services. Their political and lobbying arms have long sucked.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

Lithwick's article is just disturbing. We give how much money to these groups only to see them take the Democratic Party's path of claiming they're fighting but throwing in the towel at the first opportunity. "Oh, but we put out a press release!"

Which allowed the forced birthers to make abortion technically legal, but nearly impossible to obtain. Roe can remain on the books but be as useful as the PA law allowing horses to be hitched in front of a courthouse.

I stopped donating to NARAL after the Alito mess. Planned Parenthood is the only place that gets my donations and those are directed, with 75% going to abortion services.

ETA: While looking for something else, I came across this -- and now I know where some of my donations will go, instead of supporting pro-choice advocates who don't know how to fight: National Network of Abortion Funds, of which the DC Abortion Fund is a member.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

about the future of government funded health care. And just how Universal our health care coverage will ever be.

I want the Universal - Medicare for Everyone..... but not the politics.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

We might get universal health care, but what will we be asked to give up in order to get it?