Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I will be a provider

A woman at the end of her first trimester was referred to the MFM clinic for multiple fetal anomalies.  The follow-up ultrasound confirmed the these anomalies and a showed a few others that hadn't been noticed previously.  The fetus is showing a distinct constellation for a significant chromosomal anomaly that is not compatible with life.  Chances are high that she'll have fetal demise prior to delivery, and if not, the baby will not live past a year of age. 

The couple was understandably devistated.  This is not easy news to hear and digest.  This was a wanted baby.  They wanted to know what comes next and wanted to know their options.  The otherwise fabulous doctor skirted discussion of termination.  Even when the woman asked directly about abortion: "who could do it for her? where would she go to have it done?  does it pose any risk to her health?" answers were vague and indirect. 

In the end, she and her partner have a horribly difficult decision to make.  They need more information before they'll even be able to make a decision.  However, if termination is the decision, she should have access to local, safe, and compassionate care.  She ideally should be able to have an abortion preformed by her ob/gyn or the MFM doc she's seeing, the people she already trusts, already has a relationship with, and who already know the whole complex story.  She shouldn't have to travel over an hour away to go to one of the sole providers in the state.  She shouldn't have to comply with mandatory state waiting laws and other such rules.  She shouldn't have to walk through a line of picketers. 

This is only one of the heart-wrenching stories I've been witness to over the last 2 weeks of ob/gyn clerkship.  I'm repetitively seeing the casualties of the war on family planning and reproductive health choices.  I may only be a single person, but I take it upon myself to be a solider fighting in this war. 

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