Expanding Access to Abortion Training: A Recap of the Press Conference in Albany, New York

My name is Alexis Zachem and I am a third-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and former chapter president of Medical Students for Choice.

The Reproductive Health Services Training and Education Grant Program

New York City MSFC chapters have been working with Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and Senator Liz Krueger to support their reproductive health services training and education grant program which would provide funding for medical students, residents, and other trainees in abortion-restricted states to come to New York for abortion training.

Assemblyman Epstein had the idea of hosting a press conference in Albany in support of the program and invited chapter members of MSFC to come and speak in support of the program in order to emphasize the importance of the program in the state budget. I was so excited to be included and have the opportunity to take a day trip to Albany to meet MSFC chapter members from Albany Medical College there! I was able to speak at the press conference and do my best to explain why this program is so important for expanding access to abortion training for providers throughout the country. I was also able to meet fellow MSFC members from Albany!

Alexis Zachem speaks at the press conference hosted by Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and Senator Liz Krueger in Albany.

Abortion Training for All

This program will benefit medical students and advanced practice clinicians throughout the country. In New York State specifically, we are fortunate enough to receive abortion training at our home institutions. By allowing students and clinicians from abortion-restricted states to come train alongside us we will be able to hear about their experiences and learn how to be better advocates and clinicians alongside them.

The Importance of an Abortion Training Program

It is incredibly important to establish this program to ensure that our colleagues in abortion-restricted states receive adequate abortion training so that they are able to provide patients with comprehensive care at the highest possible level. It is especially important if these clinicians hope to practice in a state with less restrictive laws or if one day (hopefully) all states become less restrictive. It would be devastating to have an entire cohort of clinicians not adequately trained if (and when) that time comes. This program is vital because coming to New York for training is expensive and that can be the limiting factor for many clinicians to train outside of your state for the month, you are responsible for rent at home, rent in a new city, transportation, and more (on a student or resident budget!).

Advocacy of MSFC

As a representative from MSFC, I spoke to the need for this program from the perspective of a current medical student and future OB/GYN resident. I explained the financial burden of paying to come to New York as one of the main barriers to medical students and residents in abortion-restricted states coming to New York for training. By speaking at the press conference, we showed the governor how important it is to support this program in the state budget.

Overcoming Challenges

There are a myriad of important things that deserve state funding, and for that reason legislators and advocates are doing our best to show the governor why this program deserves a spot in the budget.

This program will improve the quality of care provided to patients across the country. It will allow providers to receive training at our amazing institutions in New York and move forward in their practice with these skills.

What’s Next

Sign our petition and advocate to your local legislator! The more attention we can draw to this program, the better.

Alexis Zachem’ Statement:

“My name is Alexis Zachem, and I am a third-year medical student and chapter leader of Medical Students for Choice at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. I am here with fellow chapter members of Medical Students for Choice from medical schools throughout the state of New York in support of the establishment of a reproductive health services training and education program in the New York State Budget.

Following the Dobbs decision, many hospitals which previously offered abortion training have been forced to halt their activities. I am very grateful for the education I have received regarding abortion and would like to ensure that physicians and physicians-in-training across the country, especially those in abortion-restricted states, have access to similar training.

This program would afford the next generation of abortion providers the opportunity to come to New York and learn skills necessary to provide safe and comprehensive care to their patients.

As medical students, we stand with all medical residents and abortion providers throughout the country. By establishing the reproductive health training fund, New York can continue to be a leader in protecting the integrity of abortion training for medical students and residents, which will safeguard patient and population health.”