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NEW YORK _ Seeking to rejuvenate the thinning ranks of America's abortion providers, New York City's public hospital system this week embarked on a bold and contentious new plan to train more doctors in the procedure.
The arrival of a new class of medical residents here this week officially launched the policy, which all but requires abortion training for obstetrics and gynecology doctors finishing their education in public hospitals. New York state trains one in every seven doctors nationwide and New York City is home to the country's largest public hospital group.
Abortion-rights advocates hope the new policy will spur similar efforts in other states, while producing qualified providers for under-served parts of the country. But abortion opponents blast the plan, which is backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as an attempt to press the next generation of doctors onto one side of a politically explosive issue.
The move comes as the number of doctors performing abortions is in a two-decade decline nationwide, due in large part to retirement and pressure from anti-abortion …