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Bill to end agreement between UW, Planned Parenthood received committee hearing

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously agreed to approve $60 million for UW System infrastructure projects.

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State lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a bill which would bar UW medical students from receiving training on how to perform an abortion, a move which critics say could threaten the accreditation of some programs.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, would prohibit university employees from performing or aiding in abortions. It also would stop employees and students from providing services at places where abortions are performed, such as Planned Parenthood.

As a result, faculty and staff will also no longer be allowed to lead instruction on abortion procedures anywhere except a non-university hospital. Since current state law prohibits giving taxpayer money to fund abortions, the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health currently has a deal with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

Under the arrangement, Planned Parenthood pays university-affiliated physicians to perform services at the Madison clinic for $150 an hour. Those services include abortions.

If Assembly Bill 206 passes, the agreement would be illegal. Medical students would be required to seek training elsewhere, with the closest location outside Madison being Milwaukee.

“UW [Health Care Administration] has continued using [state] funds to pay residents to go to Planned Parenthood in Madison and perform abortions,” Jacque told the Assembly Committee on Science and Technology Tuesday. “There is no comparable public relationship anywhere else in the country.”

Students studying to be obstetrics/gynecology doctors are required to receive abortion training since it’s a part of women’s health. Students are allowed, however, to opt out of the training for moral or religious reasons and still complete their requirements.

If UW-Madison medical school does not provide abortion training, they could lose their accreditation. If a school is not accredited, students who attend it will not become certified. It’s unlikely a student would want to attend a school if they couldn’t receive credit for their training.

Several speakers, including dean of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health Robert Golden, expressed concerns about losing certification, something which Golden guaranteed would happen

“The loss of ACGME accreditation will reduce the ability to recruit and retain top quality clinical care [instructors]” as well as cause “ a potential loss of grants and critical revenue,” Golden said. He added faculty would leave and incoming OB-GYN students would veer towards schools that offer abortion training. Jacque argued students could seek training elsewhere on their own time.

Several representatives from various organizations, including Pro-Life Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, gave testimony supporting the legislation. Many said elective abortions are not an essential part of OB-GYN training and that students would still be able to perform abortions despite not participating in training.

Many UW-Madison students, however, spoke out about the bill outside the hearing by encouraging people to call their legislators throughout the day. Student Coalition for Progress created a Facebook event and posted a script for people to use when making phone calls.

UW-Madison graduate student CV Vitolo-Haddad, who helped organize the event, said a lot of people have expressed positive responses and enthusiasm about making phone calls.

“This is a fight about providing adequate public health to rural Wisconsinites,” Vitolo-Haddad said. “That is our priority, and that is what we are hoping to emphasize by asking everyone to call their legislators.”

UW-Madison doctoral student Joseph Lally also spoke at the hearing, saying he needs the proper abortion training in order to be capable of saving lives of babies and mothers in his future career.

“If students like me never learn to perform these procedures women will suffer,” Lally said.

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