Abortion: A Provider’s Perspective

This post is part of our week-long series on the personal impact of the current state of reproductive health, rights, and justice.

by Anonymous

This contribution is from a board certified physician, in full time practice in the US Midwest providing preventive care, obstetrics and abortions. She will be providing abortion services at the clinic being re-opened in Wichita, Kansas. She shares her story with us anonymously, for her safety.

I didn’t go to medical school to be an abortion provider.

I’ve always identified as a feminist. I’ve always been pro-choice. But an abortion provider? That seemed like a hard row to hoe. As far as I knew, either you were an abortion provider, full-time, or else you were a non-abortion provider and you did all the other things you could do in the field of medicine. I couldn’t see myself doing all abortions, all the time. It seemed like thankless work, and I was grateful that other people stepped up to do it, but I didn’t think it would be me.

Then I got involved with Medical Students for Choice, an organization founded to address the shortage of abortion providers — a shortage whose existence came as a complete surprise to me. I learned that America’s abortion providers are graying, that physicians are stopping abortion provision and are not being replaced. “If not you,” they asked me, “then who?” I had no answer.

Medical Students for Choice introduced me to a concept revolutionary in its simplicity: provide abortions for your own patients. Like most Americans, I had viewed abortion as something that happened in abortion clinics, a medical pariah divorced from mainstream healthcare. I came to realize this was unnecessary: a woman could see her own personal doctor for illness, for contraception, for abortion.

I decided that I would learn to provide abortions. I would provide them, at least, for my own patients. In the back of my mind, though, with the tenuous legal status of Roe v Wade, I anticipated a future in which those skills might be crucial.

And then Wichita came knocking, and I could not in good conscience say no.

I’ll be honest: I’m terrified. I don’t want my life to end in pain and violence at the point of a gun. I’m all too aware that it only takes one determined terrorist. I’m all too aware that the same antichoice zealots who publicly disavow violence would be only too happy to give my detailed daily itinerary to a homicidal extremist. It would be so easy not to do this. The safest thing, and maybe the smartest.

Why, then? Why do this work? One answer is, because I love it. It’s not tasteful, these days, to admit taking joy in abortion. We’re supposed to regard it as a necessary evil at best, a minor tragedy. But there’s nothing I love more than being able to take the hand of a desperate woman and say to her, yes, I can help you. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than the palpable relief and thankfulness when I tell a woman that she’s no longer pregnant. With a five minute office procedure, I can help someone take back her life. I am incredibly excited and blessed to be able to do this work for women who would otherwise have no choice.

And that’s the other answer. If I don’t do this work, who will? The answer is: no one. I have the skills. Wichita has the need. I feel morally obligated to do what I am able and willing to do.

Each woman’s abortion story is deeply hers and no one else’s. Each abortion I perform is a unique encounter with a unique woman, a story she and I share that may never leave the walls of the examination room. At the same time, there’s no question that this is a war. It’s a war on women’s bodies, women’s personal integrity, women’s personhood. It’s a war that needs soldiers on the front lines, and I feel a moral imperative to step up.

[Editor’s Note: more people than just cis women need and want access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion.]

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13 Responses to “Abortion: A Provider’s Perspective”

  1. Lois Backus

    Thank you so much for “stepping up” when you are so greatly needed! You have my endless admiration and gratitude. Doctors like you are the reason that I do the work I do at Medical Students for Choice.

  2. TheDeviantE

    Thank you. This post and the work you are doing brings tears to my eyes. If only you *didn’t* have to think about your safety. If only you *weren’t* the only one.

    Thank you.

  3. RachelB

    If I don’t do this work, who will? The answer is: no one. I have the skills. Wichita has the need. I feel morally obligated to do what I am able and willing to do.

    Thank you so much for your work.

  4. melissa

    Thank you for doing what you do. It is so important and so needed. I wish it wasn’t an area that people were afraid to go into. I also wish you didn’t have to worry about your safety. Thank you. Thank you.

  5. invectiva

    Thank you so much for putting yourself at risk to help those who can’t find help elsewhere. I lived in Kansas when I was a kid. They need you there. Dr. Hern is one of the last holdouts in that general area of flyover country. I wish you continued joy, much success, safety, long life and health.

  6. Used2beGOP

    Thank you! 70% of America DOES thank you too. Stay safe. {{{{{Hugs from America}}}}}

  7. ami adkins

    Thank you so much for stepping up. We need more doctors like you.

  8. Finisterre

    Thank you, thank you, again. I have been in those women’s shoes and I thank my lucky stars that a doctor like you put my wellbeing first. My life would have been immeasurably harder if they had not done so. Thank you.

  9. Is Abortion a Tragedy?

    […] that choice is less tragic than the alternative. McGrath’s post actually made me think of another recent post by the anonymous OB who will be soon traveling to Wichita, Kansas, to replace the late Dr. […]

  10. Amanda

    Thank you for your work! I will pray for your safety and will do my part of trying to change hearts and minds to ensure the longterm safety of women and the providers who serve them!

  11. Lisa

    I am eternally grateful for you and what you are doing for desperate women. I heard recently on NPR that Dr. Tiller’s clinic might be re-opening, and I wondered who the physician was who would work there. And it is you. Bless you, bless you. I am 52 and am so fortunate that I was never faced with needing an abortion, but it is what I would have chosen had I ever been pregnant. With restrictions on abortion becoming ever more onerous (I live in Texas where they are some of the worst in the country), I’ve found myself thankful that I’m past the age where I’m likely to become pregnant. Young women in this country who are pro-choice and want to preserve that choice need to become involved, because choice is being chipped away bit by bit to the point that Roe v. Wade won’t even need to be overturned — it will just be impossible to obtain an abortion due to all the restrictions and the fact that fewer and fewer doctors are learning how to perform them. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your selfless service to women!!!


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