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Guest Opinion: UI medical students oppose fetal-heartbeat bill

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Senate File 2281 is detrimental to medical training for Iowa’s students and the health of Iowans.

Medical students at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine are in danger of losing vital aspects of their training in obstetrics and gynecology. According to medical student surveys, the OB-GYN training rotation is one of the highest-rated rotations. Any medical student will attest to the fact that delivering a baby is an important and unforgettable training experience. The entire OB-GYN residency program for new doctors in the state of Iowa is in jeopardy. This threat to medical training is a direct result of Senate File 2281, the fetal-heartbeat bill.

SF 2281, passed in the Senate on Feb. 28, bans all abortions that do not directly threaten the life of the mother after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which normally occurs at six weeks gestation. Regardless of the mixed stances on abortion, the very real consequence of SF 2281 is the elimination of Iowa’s only OB-GYN residency program. According to the Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation standards, OB-GYN residency programs must offer family-planning training, including contraception and “training in the provision of abortion.”

RELATED: Birth control in Iowa

Training in abortion is required because it is one of the most common surgical procedures in OB-GYN. The bill would prevent the residents from getting the adequate number of abortions needed for training. In addition, the resident would not get adequately trained in abortion procedures for older fetuses. The bill’s significant limitations on abortions would make our residency program fail to meet accreditation. This damages the training of resident physicians and medical students alike. More importantly, this bill hurts the health of our patients, the people of Iowa.

The OB-GYN residency program increases the number of OB-GYN doctors in Iowa. Iowa ranks second to last in number of OB-GYN doctors per capita of woman, according to 2017 data from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The residency program at the UI is one of the highest-ranking programs in the U.S. and attracts some of the brightest obstetricians. Without the residency program, it will be increasingly difficult to recruit OB-GYN physicians to come to Iowa to train future generations and provide exceptional care to the women of Iowa.

RELATED: Rosario: Iowa fetal-heartbeat bill poses inequitable harm to women’s health care

According to Kim Leslie, an OB-GYN physician and teacher, the bill would affect more than just the OB-GYN residency program. After warnings and probation by the Graduate Medical Education Council, the OB-GYN program will lose accreditation. This would also cause the loss of our fellowship programs (specialized OB-GYN training), putting our neonatology, a program specifically meant to care for premature and newly delivered infants, and family medicine training programs at risk.

There are other states, such as North Dakota, that have similar fetal-heartbeat legislation as the proposed SF 2281. However, North Dakota does not have an OB-GYN residency or neonatology training program. The circumstances are not comparable. Our Iowan patients deserve our best level of care. Doing so requires an OB-GYN residency and contingent fellowship programs in cases in which pregnancies may be high-risk or complicated.

RELATED: University of Iowa OB/GYNs, Board of Regents warn Legislature against Heartbeat bill

We respect the diverse individual beliefs of the moral and ethical considerations of abortion. Our statement is strictly on the practical concerns of the fetal-heartbeat bill. We fundamentally care for the people of Iowa as our patients, friends, and family members. SF 2281 may be intended to preserve life, but the reality is that it directly jeopardizes the lives of pregnant women and neonates alike by eliminating the training that would be quintessential to their medical care. We strongly advocate against legislation that jeopardizes our training as future physicians and the health of our patients.

– Thomas Kun Pak

& Nicole Westergaard

Students of UI Carver College of Medicine

91 students from the UI Carver College of Medicine signed this letter. All their signatures are posted.


University of Iowa Medical Student Signatories

Abby Rewoldt, Aditi Patel, Aline Sandouk, Alysia Horcher, Amanda Manorot, Amanda McLearn-Montz, Amy Grochala, Amy Hanson, Armando Cervantes, Armin Avdic, Brad Egbers, Brett Wee, Brianna Brun, Chloe Hlas, Christine Schwartz, Cole Haskins, Cory Baughman, Danielle Pohl, Demi Eble, Eleanor Germano, Eleanor Sullivan, Elijah Auch, Elizabeth Shirazi , Emily Weig, Erica Henderson, Erika Dorff, Erin Wilson, Garrick Priebe, Guanghao Liu, Hannah Mikkalson, Hannah Trembath, Hillary O’Brien, Ian Kidder, Jeffrey Daniels, Jenna Fussell, Jenna Schade, Jeremy Sanchez, Joanna Silverman, Joshua Schoenfeld, Julia Froud , Kaci McCleary, Keenan McLaughlin, Kelsey Adler, Kelsey Saddoris , Kerri Golinghorst, Kevin Lawrence, Kristina Damisch, Kylie Miller, Lauren Coffey, Levi Endelman, Levi Kellogg, Lisa Wehr Maves, Lucille Howard, Lucy Evans , Madeline Peters, Margaret Fuller, Margaret Long, Maria Arulraja, Matt Rudolph, Megan Fellows, Nealy Wooldridge, Nicole Nitschke, Nicole Peyton, Nicole Westergaard, Norah Nguyen, Patrick Bohn, Qaadir King-McAlpin, Rachel Atherton, Rebecca Autenried, Rob Humble, Roshan Abid, Ruth Riedl, Sara Stucker, Sarah Wineman, Shadee Giurgius, Shelby Bloomer, Sophia Williams-Perez, Stephanie Baldwin, Susannah Koch, Taisha Doo, Tanzeh Khan, Thomas Pak, Tim Maxwell, Tori Troesch , Tyler Foley, Victor Hatcher, Victoria Roeder, Vivian Pham, William Ganske, Zhaohui Hu, Zoe Brown-Joel




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