Fighting Abortion Restrictions in a Hostile State: My Experience Testifying at the Texas Legislature
by Katie Hansen MS1 at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin The 2017 legislative session in Texas has been a disheartening one for women and the pro-choice movement. State lawmakers have already proposed 17 bills that would make it more difficult for women to access abortion. On February 15th, I testified at …
Most people assume that a medical degree and completion of an OB/GYN or Family Medicine residency program means that a physician has been trained in all aspects of patient care related to women’s reproductive healthcare. You might be surprised to know that many OB/GYN and Family Medicine residency programs DO NOT adequately teach contraception, options counseling, and abortion procedures in their training.
MSFC encourages OB/GYN and Family Medicine residency programs to include in their curricula:
- didactic instruction on the public health, social and historical context of abortion;
- medical and surgical abortion techniques;
- pre- and post-abortion management;
- pregnancy-options and contraceptive counseling; and
- the opportunity to observe abortion procedures, including pre-abortion counseling.
We encourage residents to take residency training reform into their own hands and advocate within their residency programs to affect change. Below are some examples of what MSFC residents are doing to add reproductive health information into the training agendas at their programs:
- Surveying instruction and assessing the level and quality of abortion and reproductive health training offered at their residency program.
- Developing and implementing elective training opportunities and lecture series.
- Inviting speakers to give talks about reproductive health information to residents.
- Training residents to become activists.
- Organizing opportunities for residents to learn abortion procedures and counseling sessions.
If you are interested in starting training reform on your campus, the steps below will help get you started. You can also contact MSFC’s education manager ([email protected]) for more individualized assistance.
1. Assess the Training: Meet with your group to determine where your training stands now and what steps must be taken for improvement.
- Talk to 2nd and 3rd year residents to find out what reproductive health information is already included in your program.
- Find out if anyone has worked on this issue in the past.
- Decide on some parameters- are you trying to reform the early exposure to reproductive health care training or training for more advanced residents, or both?
- Decide which types of subjects to you want to cover.
- Examine your group’s resources.
- Set realistic goals and timelines for the group’s work.
2. Seek Support: Find fellow residents, physicians, residency program directors, administrators, and members of the community who can lend support and serve as allies during the process.
3. Research a Training Reform Strategy: Each residency program is structured differently. Where should you start advocating for training reform at your program?
- Talk to your residency director or faculty members to identify opportunities to incorporate more abortion education and comprehensive reproductive health education into your residency program.
- Identify influential people in your program and ask them to help you with this important work.
4. Implement a Training Reform Strategy:
- Apply to present new reproductive health research at Grand Rounds. MSFC will not provide funding for Grand Rounds presentations, but will provide assistance in applying to other organizations for funding.
- Utilize the Curricula Organizer for Reproductive Health Education (CORE) website to build Powerpoint presentations and obtain handouts for reproductive health information to help you implement your curriculum strategy.
- Introduce or join a lunchtime lecture series to supplement existing resident education.
5. Keep in touch with MSFC Headquarters: We can provide you with information, surveys, and support. And we need your help too! Residency training reform is often a multi-year process, so future MSFCers at your program will be able to continue where you left off if you keep MSFC HQ in the loop about your efforts.