State News

UW officials concerned over proposed anti-Planned Parenthood legislation

Students on campus held a call-in Friday to encourage Republican lawmakers to vote against a bill that would end a partnership between UW and Planned Parenthood.

Image By: Leah Voskuil

Republican legislation that would end an agreement between the UW System and Planned Parenthood, and potentially impact the school’s training process for women’s health specialists, has sparked concerns from university officials.

Since 2008, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health has partnered with Planned Parenthood to allow physicians to gain women’s health-related experience by providing medical service to Planned Parenthood patients.

The proposed bill, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and state Rep. André Jacque, R-DePere, would prohibit UW employees from performing or assisting with abortions, as well as from working at private centers that perform abortions in the capacity of their roles at the university.

The Republican lawmakers argue the system partnership with Planned Parenthood violates current law, which prevents state and federal funds from covering the costs of abortions. The law was expanded to include UW medical facilities in 2011.

Representatives from multiple UW schools have openly asked legislators not to support the proposed bill, citing fears over the impact on their programs’ accreditation.

"This bill would have disastrous consequences as it will impair our ability to maintain the national accreditation for our OB-GYN residency training program,” UW Health CEO Alan Kaplan and UW School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert Golden wrote in a letter to legislators.

Kaplan decried the legislation, calling it a direct threat “to shut down our capacity to train future OB-GYN physicians.”

The bill’s authors object to these concerns, arguing that other programs, like that at the University of Arizona, have managed to maintain accreditation despite similar state legislation.

Many university officials remain unconvinced, citing the need for UW physicians to learn to handle life-threatening women’s health complications, such as medically necessary abortions.

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