GOP Bill Could Stop Doctors From Learning How To Perform Legal Abortions

May 25, 2011 3:22 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

House Republicans voted today for another bill that chips away at the Affordable Care Act. This time it puts program funding for graduate medical education in teaching health centers on the chopping block by rescinding the unobligated portion of the $230 million provided by the health care law and converts the funding to an authorization of appropriations. This bill was offered by Republicans despite their complaints that the new health care law does nothing to address the well-documented doctor shortage

But last night the debate over the bill took a twist when Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced an amendment that not only would prohibit the use of funds to graduate medical training programs from being used to provide abortions, but it also would prevent teaching health centers from training medical residents on how to perform abortions, which in case anyone forgot, are legal medical procedures.

FOXX: This amendment ensures that the grants being provided to teaching health centers are not being used to perform elective abortions, makes it crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train health care providers to perform abortion procedures. Mr. Chair, when the liberal Democrats rammed through their government takeover of health care in an unprecedented fashion they refused to include long-standing pro-life provisions. With this bill, House Republicans are seeking to restore a grant program for residency programs through the regular appropriations process and my amendment explicitly and permanently ensures that it should the appropriations committee fund this program, taxpayer money will not be used to pay for elective abortions or train abortion providers.


Rep. Diane DeGette (D-CO) responded to Foxx's amendment immediately, calling it "an extreme and direct attack on women's health" and noting that it goes well beyond the abortion restrictions under the Hyde Amendment. 

The Hyde Amendment allows for federal funds to be used for an abortion only in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. However, Foxx's amendment prevents doctors from being trained to perform a procedure that is allowed even in the limited circumstances provided under Hyde. So that means when a woman enters a hospital and needs an abortion because of a life-threatening condition, there is a possibility that her doctor might not be able to perform the procedure because he or she might not be trained on how to do it.

With Foxx's amendment to the graduate medical training bill, Republicans get two hits for the price of one. Not only are they dismantling part of the health care law, but they are adding another anti-woman, right-wing notch to their belt.