Young Women’s Feminist Activism: Medical Students For Choice

I only just found out about Medical Students For Choice. MSFC is a Northern American network of medical students advocating for reproductive rights in general, and for medical student and resident training in particular.

97% of non-metropolitan councils in the USA have no abortion provider at all. Women face access blocks not just in terms of legality and money, but also in terms of travel time, childcare, mandatory waiting periods, accommodation, and time off work.

The number of providers in the USA has fallen by 37% in the past 25 years, and more than half of abortion providers are over the age of 50, pointing to an impending major crisis in availability even if the legal issues do get sorted out. 95% of abortion are performed outside of teaching hospitals, and few medical students receive any training at all on the subject.

The threat of violent crime is a further obstacle to medical students choosing to become abortion providers. From the MSFC History page:

In the spring of 1993, tens of thousands of medical students across the U.S. received an anti-choice pamphlet at their homes. The offensive, meant-to-intimidate tone of the brochure can be most quickly conveyed by a “joke” that it contained: “Q: What would you do if you were in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist and you had a gun with only two bullets? A: Shoot the abortionist twice.”

Soon after that, Dr. David Gunn, a Florida abortion provider, was murdered. Medical students across the country began to realize that, as future physicians, they were targets of anti-choice extremists. At the same time, they were noticing that abortion was being excluded from their medical education. Students and young doctors were ill-prepared to counsel women about their reproductive health options. Moreover, they were ill-equipped to decide whether to offer abortion services.

In the face of an increasingly violent anti-choice climate, Jody Steinauer, a UCSF medical student at the time, joined with a handful of students to place a stake in the ground: if a woman was going to have reproductive choices in the future, students needed to learn about abortion in school, be trained in abortion in residency, and find support as future abortion providers.

[Via Rachel at Women’s Health News.]

Categories: gender & feminism, medicine

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. Thanks for spreading the word on this.

  2. Rachel: thanks for posting about it!

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