Neeli Bendapudi

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The OBGYN residency program at the University of Louisville School of Medicine is under fire for its relationship to Kentucky's only current abortion provider. 

During a news conference Wednesday at the Kentucky Capitol, advocates with The Family Foundation said they and 35 state lawmakers are asking Attorney General Daniel Cameron to investigate University of Louisville Medical School’s Ryan Residency Program "to determine whether it is violating state laws prohibiting taxpayer-funded abortions" through its relationship with Louisville's private EMW Women's Surgical Center.

"These documents suggest that the only remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky is being run as an official or quasi-official arm of the University of Louisville’s Medical School," group spokesman Martin Cothran said in a news release. "Not only is U of L involved in the abortion clinic’s activities, but the clinic operates, for all practical purposes, as an extension of the Medical School’s program."

Taxpayer-funded abortion is illegal in Kentucky. The Family Foundation alleges that U of L is in violation of this law and points to 2018 court documents in which a U of L doctor says performing abortions at EMW was part of her job responsibilities.

U of L, however, said its medical school and EMW are separate entities. The goal of the Ryan Residency Program is "to provide formal training in contraception, family planning and medical/surgical pregnancy termination" for U of L and University of Kentucky students, according to school documents. Part of the program includes a rotation at EMW, although students have the option to opt out of training in abortion procedures. 

In a response Wednesday, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said she would welcome discussing the program with Cameron. The family planning program is a requirement of U of L and every accredited OBGYN program in the United States, she said. 

"No elective abortions are performed at U of L Hospital or any U of L Health facilities," Bendapudi said. "Zero, none."

"... We comply — not just in this program, but in every program — with all federal and state laws," she added. "If we did not provide that education here, then our medical residents in the OBGYN program and those at the University of Kentucky would actually have to leave the state. They have to get (the training) somewhere. That's part of the accreditation process."

The Kenneth J. Ryan Residency Program is a national program that funds about 90 OBGYN programs across the country, Bendapudi said.

A spokesperson for Cameron said the attorney general's office will determine if a further inquiry is warranted.

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