A bill passed by the Arizona House of Representatives on Monday would prohibit state colleges and universities from using state funds — or tuition — to teach students how to perform abortions. According to one state representative, this would effectively shut down the University of Arizona's ob-gyn program.
The bill, which is on its way to the state senate, says in part,
public monies or tax monies of this state or any political subdivision of this state or any federal funds passing through the state treasury or the treasury of any political subdivision of this state or monies paid by students as part of tuition or fees to a state university or a community college shall not be expended or allocated for training to perform abortions.
That means that not only can the University of Arizona and other state schools not use state money to train abortion providers — students can't pay for that training themselves either, even if they want to. And according to State Rep. Matt Heinz, since the University of Arizona College of Medicine's ob-gyn program would no longer be allowed to teach abortion, it would likely lose its accreditation (the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires abortion training). He told Cronkite News, "Two hundred residents who are currently actively training will actually have to leave. Their training will be forfeited and it will be like the program never existed."
As Emily Bazelon wrote in the Times last summer, the "graying of abortion providers" is still a concern — but some younger doctors see university hospitals as a place for them to provide abortion care while avoiding the stress and danger of constant protest. If the bill passes, that clearly won't be true in Arizona — and schools in the state will be barred from showing doctors-to-be how to perform a legal medical procedure. I'm guessing that the state senate will balk at shutting down part of the university's medical school, and that the bill will fail or be amended to keep U of A's medical residents working. But it's a pretty clear assault not just on a woman's right to choose, but on doctors' abilities to even offer her that right. And this is just one of the state's recent attacks on reproductive freedom — last week, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill that would require women to explain the reasons for their abortion (in the name of preventing race- and sex-elective procedures). And Monday, a bill introducing stringent and unnecessary ultrasound requirements also passed the House. Democrat Katie Hobbs says the state is in danger of a "return to the days of illegal, back-alley abortions where there are no standards of care and no concern for the safety of the women obtaining these procedures" — and unfortunately, that seems about right.