KU Medical Center concerned that anti-abortion bill could jeopardize accreditation

? The impact that a proposed anti-abortion bill would have on the Kansas University Medical Center has become a key issue.

State Rep. Sean Gatewood, D-Topeka, who opposes the bill, said Wednesday that if the measure was enacted into law, the KU Medical Center would lose accreditation for its Obstetrics/Gynecology program.

“It would cause them to not be able to train OBGYNs anymore,” Gatewood said.

House Bill 2598, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, is currently before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Abortion opponents are urging passage of the bill, which makes numerous changes to state law restricting abortions.

One provision of the bill states: “no health care services provided by any state agency, or any employee of a state agency while acting within the scope of such employee’s employment, shall include abortion.”

That could cause problems for KU Medical Center’s residents, who are considered state employees, and accreditation of its OBGYN program.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education said it doesn’t comment for or against pending legislation on abortion, but in a statement the group presented its policy on accreditation.

“No program or resident with a religious or moral objection shall be required to provide training in or to perform induced abortions. Otherwise, access to experience with induced abortion must be part of residency education,” the group stated.

Federal and State Affairs Committee Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said the KU Medical Center issue has been discussed by committee members. He said part of the problem was that KU officials raised the issue after the public hearing on the bill was closed.

KU has offered an amendment that would exempt medical residents employed by the KU Medical Center from the prohibition who are being trained “in relevant procedures for such purposes in facilities that are not owned and operated by any agency or authority of the state of Kansas.”

Brunk said he would not offer the amendment, but said any other committee member could. And, he said, if the bill were approved in committee and the House without the amendment, it could be changed while in the Senate. He said the committee will vote on the bill Thursday.

KU Medical Center issued a statement, saying that it was trying to work with legislators “in an effort to avoid any unintended consequences that could threaten the University of Kansas School of Medicine’s accreditation.”

The statement added: “Abortions are not performed at the University of Kansas Hospital, which is the primary site of residency training for residents at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. Accreditation requirements for Obsetrics/Gynecology residencies, however, require that residents gain experience with induced abortion and complications due to abortion, unless they have a religious or moral objection. Consequently, residents in Ob/Gyn acquire necessary experience in abortion procedures elsewhere in facilities that are not owned or operated by the state of Kansas.”

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who was at the Capitol to talk with legislators about KU funding on Wednesday, declined to comment on the controversy.