On Tuesday, May 26, UW SMPH Dean Robert Golden and I testified at a public hearing of the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Human Services, Children and Families
. During our time in the Capitol, the committee was discussing Wisconsin Senate Bill 260, which would prohibit “an employee of the University of Wisconsin System or the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority from, while in the scope of his or her employment, performing or assisting in the performance of an abortion; performing services at a private entity where abortions are performed that is not a hospital; or training or receiving training in performing abortions.” You can read the whole bill here.
Dean Golden’s written testimony (available here) does an excellent job outlining the significant ways this bill could affect our ob-gyn residency program’s accreditation. He made the same arguments in 2017 when a very similar bill was introduced. In addition to how it could affect our accreditation, I know that it could also affect our reputation as a premier residency training program. Right now, we get over 700 applications for seven residency spots every year. After the similar bill that was introduced in 2017 became national news, almost all medical students who I interviewed queried me directly about where we are in terms of family planning and abortion training. Clearly, this “cream of the crop” cadre of medical students, who recognize that UW Ob-Gyn is a premier training program, fully appreciate the critical importance of this training in caring for women in their future lives as practicing ob-gyn physicians.
I know that personal beliefs around this issue vary widely across our department, and I also know that our superior faculty, APPs, trainees, staff, and researchers are committed to training the ob-gyns of the future and serving all women in Wisconsin. These two critical pillars of our program – exceptional patient care and training tomorrow’s physicians – go hand in hand, and loss of accreditation could affect both missions.
It also bears repeating that making abortion inaccessible or illegal does not stop people from wanting pregnancy termination for a plethora of reasons. Every incremental chipping away at this constitutionally protected right puts the health and safety of people we serve, and people across the state, at risk.
Whether this specific bill advances out of committee remains to be seen, and I am sure our health care institution will continue its efforts to inform the legislature about the risks it poses to women’s health training in our department. But even if you’re never called to testify in a legislative hearing, it’s always a good time to remember that, as private citizens, we can share thoughts with our elected officials when something moves us personally.
I am so proud of the educational and clinical missions of this department, and consistently grateful for each of your dedication to providing the best possible care for our community.
Read more about the hearing:
Wisconsin senators hear testimony on two abortion-related measures (Wisconsin State Journal)
Republicans, UW clash over abortion ban proposal (Wisconsin State Journal)