Kan. Medical Center's Accreditation Remains Threatened by Antiabortion Provision

March 19, 2012 — The Kansas House on Friday approved a budget amendment that could jeopardize the obstetrics and gynecology accreditation for the University of Kansas Medical Center's residency program, one day after a House committee amended an antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2598) to address that concern, the Huffington Post reports (Celock, Huffington Post, 3/17).

The committee added the amendment before approving the underlying bill, a far-reaching measure with many other contentious provisions, including a requirement that abortion providers tell women the procedure is linked to breast cancer and changes to rules on tax deductions. The bill now goes to the full House (AP/NECN, 3/15).

One of the bill's provisions would prohibit state employees from providing abortion care. Because residents at the medical center are considered state employees, they would not be able to participate in abortion training.

Officials at the medical center received a letter from a medical education accreditation board warning that it must offer the training to remain accredited in obstetrics and gynecology, although students may opt out for moral or religious reasons. Ob-gyn residents receive the training at a private facility, and no abortions are performed at the medical center.

Rep. John Rubin (R), who offered the amendment, said the accreditation issue was an unintended consequence of the bill. The amended language would mean that state employees would be acting outside the scope of their official employment when receiving abortion training, he said. Under the amendment, residents could receive abortion training at outside facilities through June 30, 2013 (Foster, Topeka Capital Journal, 3/15).

Amendment Added to Budget

On Friday, after more than six hours of debate on the budget measure, Rep. Joe Patton (R) proposed an amendment that would prohibit states employee acting within the scope of their employment from providing abortion care, except to save a woman's life.

Several lawmakers noted that the amendment could jeopardize the medical center's ob-gyn accreditation, but the House went on to approve the amendment by voice vote (Rothschild, Lawrence Journal-World, 3/19).