Governor Gray Davis has announced that he will be signing four measures to protect women's reproductive rights at a signing ceremony in San Francisco this afternoon. Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson's Assembly Bill 2194 is one of the measures that will be signed by Governor Davis.
AB 2194 requires residency programs in obstetrics/gynecology to comply with the Accredidation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) program requirements for obstetrics and gynecology, include training in the performance of an abortion. This bill does not alter existing provisions in law and the ACGME policy that exempt individuals and institutions with religious or moral objections from this training requirement.
Assemblymember Jackson is expected to address supporters of the measure during the ceremony by telephone from New York City. Janice Rocco, her Chief of Staff, will attend the ceremony and be reachable by cell phone before and after the 2:00 PM event.
The goal of this AB 2194 is to help ensure that women in California continue to have access to abortion services. One of the greatest obstacles to obtaining safe and legal abortion services today is the lack of providers. In California, 36 percent of our counties (21/58) currently have no abortion provider. Between 1992 and 1996, the number of providers in California fell 11 percent. The situation is likely to get worse as physicians retire without adequate replacements.
The majority of physicians who perform abortions are over 50 years of age. Physicians over the age of 65 are twice as likely to offer abortion services as physicians under 40. Despite this, no more than 46% of residency programs provide routine training in first-trimester abortion. Studies show that physicians who receive abortion training during their residency are more than twice as likely to provide abortion services than physician who do not. Doctors who do not provide abortion services today cite “lack of proper training” as one of the top reasons why they do not offer patients this care.
The generation of doctors who witnessed the tragic plight of women prior to Roe v. Wade is retiring without sufficient numbers of trained physicians to replace them. Without adequate opportunities to receive this training, the next generation of women’s reproductive health care providers will be unable to give women accurate medical information about their options or to provide abortion services.