ICYMI: Wisconsin OB-GYN programs must send residents across state lines for training because of abortion ban

Oct 31, 2022

ICYMI: Wisconsin OB-GYN programs must send residents across state lines for training because of abortion ban

MADISON, Wis. — Following Ron Johnson’s successful efforts to help overturn Roe v. Wade and institute Wisconsin’s nearly universal abortion ban, Wisconsin OB-GYNs are having to travel across state lines to get the training they need to adequately take care of their patients.

Key Points:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin OB-GYN programs must send residents across state lines for training because of abortion ban

  • More than two dozen residents with the Medical College of Wisconsin will need to cross the border next semester to receive medical training in Illinois they can no longer receive in Wisconsin.
  • The residents, in varying stages of completing their 4-year-long residencies in obstetrics and gynecology, will be participating in clinical rotations at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, doctors associated with each of the medical centers residency programs told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • The plan, which still needs to be finalized, is the result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade − which kicked an 1849 state abortion ban back into place − combined with the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education requiring OB-GYN residency programs to teach abortion-related procedures or face losing accreditation.
  • The state’s two other OB-GYN residency programs − at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee − are vulnerable as well.
  • An Aurora spokesperson said Thursday the hospital also plans to send OB-GYN residents out of state, though they would not provide specifics of the arrangement. A UW doctor said they are in the process of determining a course of action.
  • “We are committed to following the ACGME mandates of training our residents and putting out well-trained obstetrician gynecologists,” said Dr. Laura Jacques, an assistant professor and academic specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. “We are actively exploring options.”
  • Among its standards, the accrediting council requires OB-GYN residents to perform 15 vaginal hysterectomies, 15 laparoscopic hysterectomies, 15 abdominal hysterectomies, 200 vaginal deliveries, 145 cesarean deliveries and 20 dilation and curettage procedures, a practice commonly referred to as a D&C.
  • Following the leak of what turned out to be the Supreme Court’s decision in early May, a chart circulating on Reddit suddenly had a column titled “Roe” added to it. She said the comments were not contained to OB-GYN residency programs but all of the state’s medical programs. And commenters weren’t just worried about professional development, but about having their families live in the state’s current political and health care climate.
  • “People were saying they would not apply for emergency medicine residency in Wisconsin because they are worried about the implications that the laws would have on the health of their families,” Jacques said. “They expressed concern over the ability of a partner with health issues to receive the full spectrum of care in Wisconsin if they were to become pregnant and experience difficulties.”
  • The Medical College agreement with Rush, which is close to being finalized, has been in the works since a month after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision rescinding the federal right to an abortion.
  • With the federal protection no longer in place, doctors practicing in Wisconsin could face felony charges for performing an abortion in Wisconsin. Prior to the Dobbs decision, abortions were legal up to 20 weeks after conception in Wisconsin.
  • “Wisconsin can no longer train its own physicians to care for our community because of an abortion plan that was made into law before modern medicine,” Dielentheis said. “Wisconsin medical residents will travel to other states to get required training and may choose to stay in those states rather than return to practice medicine in states like Wisconsin that criminalize physicians for practicing standard-of-care, evidence-based medicine.”
  • Jacques said she is already seeing the impact on the UW’s ability to train its residents. Since the fall semester began, “our residents are currently not receiving really any clinical abortion training.”