PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case that granted people the constitutional right to an abortion. Following the ruling, several states heavily restricted access to the medical procedure.
Now, many medical students across the country are having to rethink if and where they will receive their training on abortion care. This was the reality for one woman, who is the first out-of-state resident to receive abortion care training at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Women’s Health this fall.
Her training at OHSU was announced on Wednesday morning, but the university says that her identity must remain anonymous for safety reasons. According to the release, the medical resident is unable to receive this same training in her home state because of an abortion ban that could lead to a felony charge for her and her prior institution.
“It’s a really frightening reality we’re living in,” Alyssa Colwill said. Colwill leads OHSU’s obstetrics and gynecology Ryan Residency Program which educates medical fellows, residents, and students on contraception and abortion care. “If medical students and residents aren’t able to learn these skills — which should be considered very basic, standard practices — they won’t be able to properly care for patients. This goes far beyond just the states with abortion bans; it is truly a threat to women’s health care everywhere.”
Because abortion remains legal in Oregon, OHSU created a program for residents who want to learn how to perform abortion procedures regardless of state legislation. Although the visiting resident is grateful for the opportunity, she says she is frightened about what could come of it.
“Unfortunately, the biggest feeling I’ve had around this opportunity is fear,” she said. “I fear that I could jeopardize my own standing in residency, jeopardize funding for my institution, or jeopardize my colleagues and their opportunity to do something like this in the future.”
Regardless of the risks, the resident says she recognizes the importance of the work that she’s doing.
“Despite the uphill battle we are fighting, I am fired up and want to make a difference in the situation,” the resident said. “Even though it will be immensely more difficult now, I’m more motivated than ever to pursue a path in women’s health.”
Her specialized training is being supported by the Abortion Care and Training Fund. OHSU says the new trainees will not only gain firsthand experience conducting surgeries and procedures, but also learn how to counsel patients in order to make reasoned decisions on their sexual and reproductive health.