Dr. Benjamin Chu, President of the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs New York City’s public hospitals, is searching for donors to help fund mandatory abortion training for obstetrics and gynecology residents in the hospitals’ eight OB/GYN residency programs. The mandatory training, an initiative supported by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is expected to begin in July 2002. All OB/GYN residents will have to undergo abortion training unless they oppose it on so-called moral or religious grounds.
Pro-choice advocates are pleased with the progress of the initiative, which Bloomberg outlined during his mayoral campaign, and hope that the mandatory training will eventually boost the number of abortion providers not only in New York but in other regions as well. One in seven doctors in the U.S. is trained in New York City.
Currently, the number of abortion providers nationwide, already small, is in danger of further dwindling. According to Planned Parenthood, a whopping 84 percent of all U.S. counties do not have abortion providers, and nearly one in four women have to travel more than 50 miles to obtain abortion services. Abortion providers are also aging. Most providers are over 50 years old, and few OB/GYN residents are learning the procedure. In 1997, only 12 percent of OB/GYN programs taught first-trimester abortions in their standard curricula.