As if the threat of violence and divisive politics weren't enough, getting trained is almost impossible
By Kate Harding
June 15, 2009 |
"I vividly remember our abortion training in medical school -- kind of like some people remember experiencing a bad car accident, or a train derailing," says Carolyn, a 28-year-old New England OB-GYN who provides abortions (and asked me not to include her last name or specifics of where she lives and practices). It was 2005, and Carolyn was working nights at an abortion clinic in Oakland, Calif. After ending a shift at 2 a.m., she dragged herself out of bed for a 9 a.m. lecture "because this was going to be the one hour of education we received on elective abortions in two years of didactics."
The professor for that one hour, a family practice doctor, "was very strongly anti-choice. Which would not necessarily have to be an issue if she had been able to present the information honestly and without editorializing." Instead, the doctor gave false information about California state laws regarding abortion -- "she pulled from other states and acted as though they were nationally valid" -- and promoted long-debunked  anti-choice myths like "abortions cause breast cancer" to a roomful of medical students. She then told the class stories about how she'd counseled some of her own patients against abortion, including one woman who sought an abortion elsewhere and didn't return to this doctor, her primary care physician, for over five years. "I don't think she understood what she was saying -- that she had alienated and effectively failed her patient," says Carolyn. "That was in March of '05, and I'm still angry."