Tucked deep in HB 465, an anti-abortion bill that would restrict the procedure in several different ways, is an obscure provision that stipulates that “no department at the medical school at East Carolina University or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shall permit an employee to perform or supervise the performance of an abortion as part of the employee’s official duties.”
According to the GOP lawmakers who proposed the bill, this particular section of HB 465 will help ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t go toward abortion services. Because East Carolina University (ECU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) are state schools, abortion opponents don’t want any of their instruction time to be spent on the procedure. But this complicated effort to separate taxpayer money from abortion services could have huge implications for the medical field.
“It takes several steps to get to the point of the regulation,” Elizabeth Nash, the senior states issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that closely tracks abortion-related legislation, told ThinkProgress. “It takes you a couple steps to understand that this would eliminate — or, at the very least, drastically reduce — the abortion training programs that are in place.”
That would have particularly big consequences for UNC, which is ranked as one of the country’s top five OB-GYN residency programs. UNC’s medical school is currently home to a Ryan Program — a national initiative intended to address the growing shortage of abortion providers by providing more opportunities for doctors to be trained in pregnancy termination. Residents can also pursue a separate family planning fellowship that includes opportunities for abortion training and research. If HB 465 is enacted into law, both of those programs could be placed into jeopardy.
“It raises a very serious issue: Who’s going to be training the OB-GYNs at UNC to do abortions, if faculty can’t do them?” Dr. David Grimes, a retired abortion doctor and researcher who completed his own residency at UNC, told ThinkProgress.
The answer, of course, is nobody. If you make it impossible for women to get safe pregnancy termination, and make it impossible for doctors to learn how to perform it safely, then that leaves us in the back alleys with coat hangers.
And that's exactly what Republicans want.