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If the choice is to terminate, the method should be a safe one


When preparing for direct patient care, many medical students take the time to identify what ‘choice’ means to them and what values those meanings carry.  Questions may include: Are there certain motivations or barriers that affect my advocacy for abortion care?  What are my emotional and professional responses to the varied needs of women seeking abortions?  What role does my conscience play in wanting to provide abortion care?  Here, Christine from Philadelphia explains why she plans on becoming an abortion provider.

“I am a future abortion provider. I lead my medical school’s MSFC chapter, volunteer at an abortion clinic, and give money to Planned Parenthood. I call my political representatives to protest alleged “women’s health” legislation a few times each year.  I have held signs at rallies, I check several pro-reproductive rights news sources daily, and I very much want a pair of sneakers just like Wendy Davis’.

I am also not pro-choice.

I am committed to becoming a provider because I am pro-safe choice, a distinction I learned from a mentor of mine who practiced as an Ob/Gyn before Roe vs. Wade.  It’s a subtle difference to some, but one with a great deal of importance to me.

Women have been getting pregnant for centuries. And throughout that long history, their choices have not changed: have the child or attempt to terminate the pregnancy. What differs amongst the centuries, cultures, and permutations of law are the methods available to terminate. Historical abortifacients include inserting leeches, gunpowder, lye, turpentine, ‘herbs’ of uncertain origin, cayenne pepper, coat hangers, or knitting needles into the vaginal canal. Lacking those, women took a variety of oral substances, bludgeoned their abdomens, or ended their lives. [Now in places] where abortion is illegal, [women with wealth] can find a way to terminate safely, [while] poor women arrive septic at the hospital, are rendered infertile, or die along with their unborn.

Women today have the same choices as women did 700 years ago, but I’m glad the methods have changed. I am pro-safe choice because I don’t want women dying on my watch. If the choice is to terminate, the method should be a safe one.”

The desire to prevent death is a shared motivation among providers and the pro-choice community at-large.  It’s also a widespread issue—according to the World Health Organization’s latest report, about 21.6 million unsafe abortions took place worldwide in 2008, and 13% of maternal deaths were caused by unsafe abortions that year. Is this a driving force for you? What are your reasons for being a pro-choice medical student or ally? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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"This is such a unique opportunity to gain clinical exposure in a classically underrepresented area of medical school curricula, and I am certain that I would not have received such a robust abortion education in medical school without the RHE."

Reproductive Health Externship Participant

"I left the ATI with a strengthened resolve to get abortion training during residency in order to provide them as a PCP, and now am looking ONLY at residency programs that will allow me to get training. Moreover, talking with residents and providers left me with concrete knowledge of how to find training experiences."

Abortion Training Institute Participant