Star-Tribune columnist Charles Quimby on how access to abortion in the US isn’t just being threatened by anti-choice legislative measures:
I don’t have firm statistics, but I would say most of the physicians providing abortion services in Minnesota today are my contemporaries or older. That is, people who experienced the days of illegal abortion and the complications that ensued. That is, doctors within a decade of retirement. The late Dr. Jane Hodgson, who tested Minnesota’s law by deliberately performing an illegal abortion in 1970, continued to perform abortions until age 76, traveling from St. Paul to Duluth, because doctors there would not. She was born in 1915 and reached reproductive maturity about the year nearly 2,700 women in America died from reported self-induced or illegal abortions.
Most of the subsequent generations of doctors, including those who completed OB-GYN residencies in the early ’80s who will soon be leaving practice, received no training in terminating pregnancies, and the attitude in medical schools still seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Residents who want to learn about the full range of women’s health issues are free to arrange their own training, if they can find someone to provide it. The barriers don’t just involve learning medical procedures that are not mentioned in class; there are also issues about malpractice coverage and getting institutional approval.
Today’s medical residents were born in post-Reagan America, went to college in during the Rehnquist/Scalia era and have only known a post-Roe existence. Faced with roadblocks in their already stressful training regimens, even strongly prochoice residents may not pursue this on their own.
Meanwhile, practicing physicians who believe in choice may advise patients about all their options in handling a pregnancy, but they aren’t going to provide all the options — especially without having the training. But also because of outright harassment, fear of bad publicity or concern for their family’s safety, they have quietly decided to let reproductive freedom become not just the patient’s decision, but the patient’s problem.
As they say, read the whole goddamn thing.
Related: Via Vicky Saporta, Pamela Pizarro examines how the “lack of trained abortion providers in Canada is huge problem and is keeping women in our country from accessing adequate sexual and reproductive health services”:
When you consider that up to 40% of women will have an abortion during their life time, it is astonishing that the abortion procedure is not required to be taught in any medical school curricula. In fact in a study conducted by Medical Students for Choice, 40% of 50 schools that they surveyed “do not teach any aspect of abortion in the pre-clinical years.”