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Midwest Access Project

Protect Access to Clinical Training in Abortion Care

Help small nonprofit understand legal strategies needed when coordinating training in abortion.

Posted June 30, 2022

Background & Context

Midwest Access Project (MAP) is a 15-year-old non-profit incorporated in the State of Illinois. MAP provides clinical training and provider education in abortion, contraception, all options pregnancy counseling, and miscarriage management. MAP accepts applications for training from residents, students and clinicians around the country, and accepted trainees are placed with one of MAP’s clinical training partners throughout the region. MAP pays its clinical training partners a per diem fee to accept our learners, and MAP offers financial assistance with the associated costs of the clinical rotation to approximately 25% of our trainees. Associated costs can include state licensing fees, malpractice insurance, travel, and lodging. MAP staff also coordinate the administrative details of each rotation, which can include scheduling, orientation to the site, securing the necessary licensing and insurance needed for the rotation, and facilitating evaluations of the rotation.

MAP has an application process to select its clinical trainees. MAP selects applicants with a high motivation to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care in their future practice to underserved patient populations, but who lack access to the clinical training to do so. Healthcare professionals lack access to clinical training for a variety of reasons, including faith-based institutional prohibitions, insufficient curriculum, or state laws that limit or bar reproductive health care. Therefore, MAP may receive learners coming from hostile states, and in order to receive training learners can travel long distances to other parts of the country. Learners often provide abortion and contraception care during their clinical rotations. No learner receives clinical training in any procedure that exceeds their scope of practice in the state they are training in. Like the rest of the abortion care community around the country, MAP’s staff and board are watching the viral growth of state legislative bans and restrictions on abortion care, including proposals to provide a civil cause of action against those who help someone obtain an abortion within or outside their home state, or criminalize providers crossing state lines to provide care.

MAP does understand how dynamic the legal landscape is, and we expect an explosion of new laws and regulations that restrict care in hostile states, or expand access to care in safe states.

Work & Deliverables

Midwest Access Project seeks legal guidance on steps it should be taking to reduce the organization, board and staff legal liability in this volatile clinical care and training landscape.

• MAP is particularly interested in learning the implications from the organization’s use of resources to facilitate interstate travel of learners who will be traveling from hostile states to safe abortion states to receive clinical training, and who will necessarily be providing care within that context.

• MAP is interested in suggestions for disclaimer language we may choose to include in the orientation paperwork provided to our trainees as they prepare to travel to their rotation site.

• MAP would like advice regarding strategies for limiting our risk as our training partners are forced to make difficult decisions involving risk assessment and tolerance.

• MAP would like advice regarding strategies to limit our risk when our learners participate remotely in telehealth medication abortion care training when the patient, the trainer, and the learner are physically located in a combination of safe and/or hostile abortion states.

Project Plan

Preparation Phase

  • Receive orientation from MAP board/staff on MAP's clinical training model, training locations, etc.

Collaboration Phase

  • Answer MAP's clarifying questions, make revision to memo as needed.
  • Draft legal memo offering advice regarding the questions.
  • Conduct legal research into issues, contact MAP board and staff as needed for clarification.

Wrap Up

  • Explain outcome and further options to MAP.

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This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

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Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 6-10 hours
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Additional Training Details: MAP will provide materials and one-on-one informational sessions about MAP's model.
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Bar License(s) required: Any Bar License
  • Required Languages: None
  • Required Legal Expertise: Administrative Law, Criminal Law, Health Law, Insurance and Risk Management
  • Deliverables Due: August 19, 2022
  • Mentoring Provided: Yes
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
Midwest Access Project

Midwest Access Project (MAP) was founded in 2006 by a group of Chicago family physicians and reproductive health advocates who observed that a shortage of trained providers was preventing patients from accessing abortion and other reproductive health services. At the same time, our founders encountered many local medical students, residents, and health care providers who wanted to offer these services but could not find the necessary training. Our founders include Dr. Debra Stulberg, a family medicine physician at the University of Chicago, and Lorie Chaiten an attorney with the Reproductive Freedom Project/ACLU Foundation. Both continue to serve on MAP’s Board. MAP now has a board with 13 members and a staff of 3. Midwest Access Project envisions a society in which every person has access to comprehensive, high quality, patient-centered sexual and reproductive health care in their community. Our mission is to improve access to comprehensive reproductive health care by training providers in abortion, miscarriage care, contraception, and pregnancy options counseling. Rooted in the Midwest, MAP’s innovative training model fills gaps nationwide in medical education and clinical training. To accomplish its mission, MAP provides health care professionals with individually tailored training rotations, lectures and workshops to increase clinical skills and knowledge of comprehensive reproductive health care. MAP builds relationships with organizations and allies to grow opportunities for training nationwide and to nurture supportive community networks for providers.

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