'Absolutely unethical': Required medical training in abortion-ban states criticized

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has proposed revising its requirements for obstetrics and gynecology programs to continue abortion education in states where abortion is restricted or banned.

'If a program is within a jurisdiction that legally restricts this clinical experience, the program must provide access to this clinical experience...where no such legal restriction is present,' ACGME requirements state.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has proposed revising its requirements for obstetrics and gynecology programs to continue abortion education in states where abortion is restricted or banned. 

"All ACGME-accredited programs in obstetrics and gynecology must have a curriculum for comprehensive family planning, including didactic and clinical experience, and the opportunity for direct procedural education and training in terminations of pregnancy," the organization ACGME told Campus Reform. 

Several states now ban abortion, however, due to the overturn of Roe v Wade in May. 

Texas, for example, bans abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, with the exception of an abortion to save the life of the mother. And Louisiana “[h]as a trigger law banning nearly all abortions.” 

Caroline Wharton, press strategist and staff writer for Students for Life, opposes such requirements. 

“It is absolutely unethical to train medical students to commit abortions as the act of abortion is in direct violation with the Hippocratic Oath’s pledge to ‘do no harm," she told Campus Reform. 

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“A life-saving procedure for a mother is an intentional act to save the life of the mother and the child, although we know that in some cases the child cannot be saved, unfortunately. We cannot confound the two; one purposefully kills, the other purposefully saves,” Wharton continued. 

With bans in place, state legal professionals are fighting to keep accreditation without having to provide abortion training. 

In December of 2021, for example, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton summarized in his opinion concerning ACGME standards that "graduate medical education programs" should not be forced to provide abortion training to receive accreditation.

ACGME, however, is sticking to its requirements by arguing that residency programs must provide “a combination of didactic activities, including simulation, and assessment on performing a uterine evacuation (surgical and medical) and communicating pregnancy options.”

ACGME proposes residency programs get around state laws by sending their residents across state borders.

[RELATED: Medical Students react to a push to require abortion training in medical curricula]

“If a program is within a jurisdiction that legally restricts this clinical experience, the program must provide access to this clinical experience in a jurisdiction where no such legal restriction is present,” ACGME requirements state.

A recent July 7 Inside Higher Ed publication, however, confirmed that ACGME will continue accrediting programs that “ensure that students have access to required training in states where the practice is still legal.” 

"For programs in jurisdictions where legal restrictions on induced abortions prevent satisfaction of the requirement for clinical experience in induced abortions and a resident is unable to travel to another jurisdiction for such structured clinical experience, programs must provide the resident with a combination of didactic activities, including simulation, and assessment on performing a uterine evacuation (surgical and medical) and communicating pregnancy options," ACGME said.

"The ACGME has proposed revised requirements for obstetrics and gynecology that address the need for continued access to abortion education and training as essential for physicians in this specialty while allowing provisions for residents in jurisdictions with legal restrictions," ACGME stated.