One aspect that makes Medical Students for Choice unique—and amazing—is that our Board of Directors is required to be at least 51% medical students. Our Board president is always a medical student! This means that our constituency is driving the vision of the organization at all times. Here, three of our new Board members—Rose Al Abosy (US), Dango Mwambene (South Africa), and Hadiza Philippa Balaraba Thompson (Nigeria)—, and our new President, Kalin Gregory-Davis (US), share their passion, goals and dreams for MSFC.
Before medical school, I worked at an abortion clinic and saw firsthand the incredible lengths that people had to go through to get an abortion in this country. I saw patients travel 15 hours by bus to get the care they needed. And it made me wonder what those who couldn’t travel were doing. When access to safe abortion is restricted, the most destitute are hit the hardest. As a future abortion provider, it feels incredibly important to change a medical system that preferentiates the most privileged. With the current political landscape and the foundations of racism in this country, I see my role as a future physician to be inextricably linked to advocacy for safe abortion and reproductive justice. It wouldn’t feel just to practice any other way.
Reproductive Justice, and, more generally, bodily autonomy, eludes those who are denied social, political, and economic power and resources. The most oppressed and marginalized among us experience the most barriers as they try to make decisions about their bodies and families, for themselves and their communities. This has a far-reaching impact: when individuals are denied the ability to exert reproductive agency, entire communities are denied the ability to determine their futures. That is why advocating for safe abortion and Reproductive Justice is so important to me: it is a profound way to push against structural oppression, and return to people the power to live in their bodies and within their communities on their own terms.
I’m a young, Black, bisexual, immigrant, African ciswoman. Reproductive Justice isn’t a concept I’m working towards for my future patients but for myself and my larger Black and Queer community. This work is deeply personal. As a domestic violence survivor, I can attest to the fact that feminism saved my life.
This is not a fight that started with me. It is one that has been happening long before my existence. Women forced against their will to keep pregnancies they felt incapable of keeping, shutting their mouths and nodding in humble submission to the patriarchs of their day to “keep the peace”. And we still suffer such in the present day. In desperation, many women lose their lives while seeking a way out—the unsafe way. I say, “my body, my choice, my life”. Advocating for safe abortion and Reproductive Justice is important to me because it’s more than a movement for me. It’s the way to do what my ancestors didn’t do, liberate the generations to come. The God I serve gave me a choice on whether or not to love Him. Who am I then to decide for another human being?
My wildest dream is simply that MSFC remains open to growth, and changes with the world’s needs. I want us to not just be reactive but proactive as landscapes shift. We have the opportunity to keep our finger on the pulse and be visionaries in how to provide and expand abortion education across the globe. We have incredible student leaders who are committed to supporting one another and keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible. I want students to feel inspired, to continue understanding their physician role as advocates, and to keep building movements committed to reproductive justice worldwide. This can look a lot of different ways, and my goal for MSFC is to keep an open and innovative mind for how to shift with what is most needed in any given context.
My wildest dream for MSFC is that we, as an organization, can fully embody and demonstrate exactly how impactful medical students can be at this level of training. To even be admitted into medical school is an immense privilege that comes with power, the extent of which is hard to imagine when the journey ahead is so daunting, and the sheer amount to learn is so humbling. But we do have a lot of power! Our experiences give us so much insight into how medicine can be improved to better serve the patients we care for, and further support a politics of liberation for all. My vision for MSFC is that we empower medical students to begin that difficult work early in their training, and strengthen their advocacy skillset throughout their training, to create providers that can bring an emancipatory practice of medicine into being.
My wildest dream for MSFC is global feminist takeover *mwahahahaha*. Jokes. My vision is a global feminist alliance that aims to institutionalize sexual and reproductive justice. I hope to be part of a generation of young doctors that takes back the evidence and narrative around sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and influences local policy and public perception around SRH. My wildest dream is creating a world that is fundamentally rooted in choice/autonomy, psychological and bodily integrity, and equitable access to the highest standard of living.
My biggest dream for MSFC is to penetrate the most restrictive countries of the world with our movement. And to ensure that at some point, they can see what we see and share our vision and goals. It is my hope that MSFC and its chapters will produce more healthcare professionals equipped to cater to their patients’ reproductive needs irrespective of their own moral values.