The Scarcity of Abortion Training in America’s Medical Schools - the Atlantic
Last spring, I attended a conference for pro-choice medical students outside of St. Louis, and there I met the doctor who helped fill the void left by George Tiller.
Tiller, who ran a clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was one of only a handful of physicians in the U.S. who provided abortions late in pregnancy. In 2009, he was murdered in his church by an anti-abortion extremist. When I heard that everyone at the conference would get to meet the physician who helped bring abortion services back to Wichita, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I definitely wasn’t expecting someone as young and idealistic as Cheryl Chastine.
But no new generation of abortion providers was being trained, Hitt told us. When teaching hospitals merged with religious hospitals where abortions were banned, abortions were no longer done—or taught—at the teaching institutions. Other programs began to make abortion training optional: OB/GYN or family medicine residents who wanted the training needed to add it to their already heavy loads of required courses. Threats to the lives of abortion providers and their families dissuaded some practitioners from providing these services, even though they were trained to perform them and the procedure is legal. More than half of all abortion practitioners were past retirement age, Hitt said. One elderly practitioner flew his own plane to reach women in four states—he was the sole abortion provider in North Dakota—despite regular death threats.