Last summer’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization – which obliterated the half-century old legal precedent of Roe v Wade – has left the fate of millions of pregnant Americans and their families in the hands of state legislatures all over the country.
In states where the freedom to make reproductive healthcare decisions has been taken away, Dobbs has had a further compounding effect through restrictions being placed on the training of future doctors. Over 70% of medical residents in the U.S. are now unable to obtain required clinical training in reproductive healthcare procedures, which are not only necessary to provide abortion services, but to provide treatment for critical pregnancy complications as well.
That is why we are fighting to establish a reproductive healthcare services training and education grant program of $6 to 8 million in the final budget, which will help ensure that medical interns and residents are properly trained in medical and surgical abortion procedures.
New York has enacted strong legislation to protect choice and the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions about your own body. Now we can and must do more to ensure access to abortion care throughout the state, particularly in rural areas, by addressing shortages in trained abortion providers and in training opportunities for eligible health care practitioners. Enacting the reproductive healthcare services training program will help to achieve both goals, by offering training for advanced practice clinicians (like registered nurses or physician’s assistants), who are authorized to provide abortion services within their scope of practice, and training for physicians who practice family, internal, and primary care medicine.
In the current landscape, thirteen states have banned abortion, with some bans currently being challenged in court. The most devastating impact has been and will continue to be felt by pregnant people and their families, and more acutely by those already experiencing economic, racial, financial, and health inequities. We have already heard reports of people being forced to travel out of state to obtain abortion services, as well as cases where pregnant people were denied abortion care or emergency treatment for pregnancy complications. With more states passing anti-abortion laws, New York is expecting an influx of individuals seeking medical and surgical abortion services. Some of these individuals may require critical treatment for pregnancy complications at different stages of pregnancy. As a leader in protecting reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare, the reproductive healthcare services training program is critical to developing a sufficient number of health care providers who are trained in performing abortion services, including advanced abortion procedures.
The fund would operate a combined hospital and community-based training program with training sites throughout New York State to accommodate trainees from different regions, as well as trainees coming from out of state. With more than two thirds of the country’s next generation of doctors facing obstacles to clinical training, a shortage of trained abortion providers, and a shortage of training opportunities for advanced practice clinicians, we have a responsibility as a safe haven state to provide access to high quality clinical training in abortion procedures.
Dobbs was not only an attack on the personal freedom of all Americans, it was an attack on our entire healthcare system. We must do as much as we can in New York State to ensure New Yorkers and our fellow Americans in other states continue to have access to the often-lifesaving care they need: we must invest in a reproductive healthcare services training and education fund in this year’s budget.
Harvey Epstein is an Assembly member representing Manhattan’s 74th District and Liz Krueger is a state Senator and Chair of the Finance Committee representing Manhattan’s 28th District.
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