Jennifer, a second-year medical student at Tulane University in New Orleans, speaks with MSFC HQ about moving to a region more hostile to women’s reproductive rights and finding a supportive community through Medical Students for Choice.
What was your experience of choice before medical school?
To me, choice means an individual being able to decide the course of his or her own future. Growing up in Seattle and attending UC Berkeley, abortion was never a huge issue for me. I assumed that everyone around me was also pro-choice and believed in reproductive freedom. Of course, there were occasional posters showing enlarged pictures of unborn fetuses on Sproul Plaza, but most students either ignored these posters or accused them of being sensational.
Was there a moment when you decided that you want to dedicate your energy to the pro-choice movement?
When I moved to New Orleans to attend medical school at Tulane, I realized that reproductive justice was not a universal reality or belief. I immediately recognized the harsh environment I was in and felt that I needed to do something to help change the largely anti-choice belief system.
You’re now a Student Leader for MSFC Tulane. How has that helped you become an agent of change?
Being part of MSFC has become such an important part of my life. Through being a student leader, I have made strong connections with our local Planned Parenthood, New Orleans Abortion Fund, and abortion clinics around the state.
Can you give us an example of a time when you collaborated with one of those connections?
One of the most meaningful events that I have been a part of was the New Orleans Abortion Fund Game-A-Thon. Our MSFC team ended up raising over $2000 for our local abortion fund. Since then, NOAF has gained many MSFC volunteers and the two groups have maintained a very strong connection.
MSFC is a unique international nonprofit organization because it emphasizes grassroots organizing, which keeps chapters invested in their local communities and fosters collaborations with other local groups.
How has MSFC affected your experience of going to school in a place very different from where you grew up?
It is encouraging and uplifting to be part of this kind of community in a relatively hostile area. Being part of MSFC has allowed me to not only feel that I am helping to empower women in the South [of the US], but it has also allowed me to feel empowered myself by being a leader. I plan to continue to be a strong member of MSFC for the rest of my life.