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Abortion Access in a Pandemic: Medical Students Step Up

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As abortion access around the world is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, MSFC chapters have risen to the challenge to serve their communities. From providing childcare to healthcare workers, to delivering medications and supplies, to serving as reproductive health educators online and via hotlines, MSFC members are filling the gaps and stepping up during the pandemic.

University of Iowa: Supporting Local Abortion Clinic through Medication Delivery

Iowa faced a moment of unprecedented challenge to abortion access when Gov. Kim Reynolds banned elective procedures including surgical abortions (luckily, this has not been upheld). MSFC members were prepared to engage politically, but since have been doing on-the-ground work to help patients in their communities. The chapter’s education chair, Joanna Silverman, came up with the idea for a program to deliver medications for their local abortion clinic.

MSFC member Emily Trudeau shares, “We cleared the legalities through our school and are now providing a service where we can deliver medications (birth control, etc) to patients who are unable to get to their medications for whatever reason.” They also have a doctor on standby to help with birth control prescriptions!

 

Stepping in to Fill Staffing Shortages in Detroit

Dozens of MSFC members have stepped up at clinics across the country to fill staffing shortages caused by COVID-19. Amanda, an MSFC member in Detroit, Michigan, has been a major coordinator of this. Amanda shares, “I was lucky to be doing my last rotation at an independent abortion clinic when clinicals were cancelled. The clinic had 4+ people quit the one clinic in a matter of days, with no prior notice. So, the doctor I was working with asked if I wanted a job, and I’m now working there full time until residency starts. Clinics all across southeast Michigan are having a huge staffing shortage due to people fearing a COVID infection and quitting (although the clinics are taking proper precautions to protect employees). Since then, we have gotten 10 more MSFC med students hired at different clinics in the area. We’re directly helping [as clinical assistants] to provide care and keeping the clinics open.”

 

Sex Ed on Social Media

Following mass unemployment and loss of health insurance, many more people are turning online for reproductive health information—especially youth.  Using social media as a platform for sharing reproductive health information is a great way to fight stigma and help friends and family access accurate information. Member Bella served as a sexual health educator before medical school and has used Instagram Stories to cover some of the most frequently asked questions. Member Jill volunteers with her local Planned Parenthood’s text line, where teens and young adults can submit questions about reproductive health. She’s also provided sex ed to high school students. Jill started doing “Sex Ed Sundays” on her Instagram Stories to myth bust and engage her followers. The response has been positive, and they’ve both become a trusted source of reproductive health information in their networks!

Remote Chapter Events

 

Even if MSFC chapters can’t host meetings in person, they are continuing to further MSFC’s mission to create the next generation of abortion providers by hosting online events to educate classmates about abortion and reproductive health.  MSFC’s Medical Director, abortion provider and MSFC founder Dr. Rachael Phelps, is teaching webinars for chapters around the world. Some of her more popular presentations include Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion by the Numbers, and Top 10 Myths about Abortion. A student at one of our southern chapters had this to say about her chapter’s event with Dr. Phelps: “[The] remote workshop filled a wide gap in my medical education. I think being remote meant more members were able to attend and help facilitate a very meaningful discussion.” In fact, many chapters are reporting a turnout for online events comparable to in-person events! If you’re a med student and want to schedule an event with Dr. Phelps or brainstorm how an event can be done virtually, email [email protected]!

These are just a few of the ways our chapters have been responding to the global pandemic. If you want to learn about other projects, share your work, or brainstorm ideas, reach out to us at [email protected]. We are always here to support you!

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