Programs that train doctors in obstetrics will be required to teach abortion skills under a policy adopted Tuesday by the group that governs graduate medical education.
Programs that refuse to do so will risk losing accreditation, which teaching hospitals need to qualify for federal reimbursement for services that medical residents provide to patients. Also, most doctors must graduate from accredited training programs to be certified as competent in their specialties.
The unanimous decision by the 23-member Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education was prompted by reports that teaching hospitals have neglected to ensure that residents have adequate training in the procedure.
The revision was supported by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which certifies obstetricians, and by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the professional society for the specialty.
“Ob-gyns should be trained in all facets of obstetrics and gynecology, and this is one facet,” said Dr. William C. Andrews, president of the professional society.
Currently, residents are “required only to learn clinical skills in family planning,” said Dr. John Gienapp, executive director of the accreditation council. That implies abortion but never spelled it out, he said.
The council, made up of representatives from the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and other medical groups, can withhold accreditation for programs that don’t meet its standards.
The revised policy will take effect effective Jan. 1, 1996.
The council’s decision was denounced by abortion opponents.
“Coercing people and institutions to participate in the destruction of innocent life is a great evil,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.