The Foxx Amendment: Without Providers There Is No Choice

This article is cross-posted with permission from Emily’s List.

A woman in a small town in the Midwest enters an emergency room in the middle of the night accompanied by her husband. She is well into her second trimester of pregnancy and is complaining of high fevers, severe cramping, and chills. An ultrasound shows a fetus without a heartbeat in her uterus. Sadly, her pregnancy is not viable, and the fetus is causing a massive infection in her body. This infection could lead to septic shock and possibly death. The only solution is an emergency D&E (dilation and evacuation) to save her life. However, not one of the OB/GYNs on call that night is competent enough to successfully complete this procedure. They were all trained in residency programs that did not train in D&E procedures or could not offer enough of these procedures for any of their graduating residents to be confident in performing this important skill.

One OB/GYN in the group had done this procedure a handful of times and is chosen to complete the minor operation and save the woman’s life. As she prepares, she remembers a friend of hers from medical school who trained at a residency program that provided comprehensive education surrounding abortion procedures-including second trimester terminations. She called this friend in the middle of the night, explained the situation, and performed the procedure as her colleague guided her through on speaker phone in the operating room. The procedure was a success and the woman survived without any complications.

This is a true story.

Imagine if her colleague never answered the phone. Imagine if there was no one else to call. Would this woman have died because we have failed to train our physicians in the most basic of procedures? The Foxx Amendment (attached to H.R. 1216, which passed in the House on Wednesday) works to do just that. By preventing valuable funding resources to residency programs across the country, Congress is working to put women’s lives in imminent danger. Whether a pregnancy is electively terminated or medically necessary to save the health or life of a woman, abortion is a legal procedure and physicians should be trained to be able to perform this procedure during their residency. This bill would create incompetent physicians, who would be uncomfortable performing a simple but important procedure.

As I prepare to start my own residency in OB/GYN, I look forward to my training years ahead. I want to leave residency knowing that whoever walks through that door with whatever obstetrical or gynecological ailment, I know that I have been trained to the best of my ability to offer safe and effective care to my patients. This bill would prevent that. By preventing my residency program from training me in a basic medical procedure, I would not graduate from residency a well, trained, well-rounded physician.

As physicians, patients, and family members, we must not allow members of Congress to determine training for future physicians across this country. We must speak out against the dangerous Foxx Amendment and demand our physicians be trained in life saving medical procedures for all women. This includes your mother, your sister, your wife, your friend, your daughter. Because you or your loved one would never want to be the patient whose physician can’t help you because Congress prevented it.

Without providers, there is no choice.

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  • crowepps

    15 to 20% of pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage or other complications.  It would be criminal to prevent doctors who want to be skilled in providing care to women from getting the training they might need to save their lives.


    Doctors who have moral or conscience qualms about doing elective abortions are protected by law from ever needing to do them, but they certainly should want to be capable of dealing with emergency cases where the fetus is already dead.  Any medical trainee who has moral or conscience qualms removing a DEAD fetus should not be in an OB/GYN program.  His or her superstitions about pregnancy are going to prevent her or him from providing an acceptable standard of medical care.

  • prochoicekatie

    This amendment is terrible. While I agree that a medical student who refuses to be trained in a life saving procedure should not be given a medical degree, it is also particularly egregious to deny that training to the scores of residents who want to be competent in providing a full range of medical services.

  • elburto

    Want to save souls? Join the clergy.

    Want to save lives? Join the medical profession.

    Medicine and health are fraught and fragile enough, without legions of zealots insinuating themselves into law and practice.

    For shame America, for shame.

  • star2007

    I’m just wondering, do residency programs distinguish between teaching procedures like D&E or D&C as being treatment for miscarriage or for abortion? Just curious. 

  • forced-birth-rape

    ” For shame America, for shame. ”  ~ So true!

    Why would a loving mother want to give birth and raise daughters in this abusive to females shit nation? I am scared for the women I love to get pregnant, the vile republicans want to kill women and little girls by way of pregnancy and childbirth. ~

  • crowepps

    It’s the exact same procedure no matter the reason it’s done, but I would certainly hope they would concentrate on the ones being done in emergency situations, since learning how to handling the complications such as hemorrhage, low blood pressures, infection, etc., would be important.

  • elburto

    Honestly?  I’ve shed so many tears this year for my American sisters, you included.  Your story is just the tip of a looming, black iceberg.



  • walt

    My sister-in-law had a miscarriage and had to carry the dead fetus inside her for over a week because the state she lives in has a ban on the mis-named “Partial Birth Abortion” procedure, she had to make an appointment and travel to a different state in order to have the procedure done. Thank you forced-birth idiots!