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I practise in a family medicine clinic in an urban setting. We offer early first trimester abortions as part of our general medical care. We started doing this after mifepristone became FDA approved, because it seemed a simple way to allow our female patients to make a decision about their accidental pregnancies without all the charge and drama involved in going to an abortion clinic, across a picket line. We thus allow our patients to work through their decisions in privacy, in consultation with us, much as they would other difficult decisions that have a medical aspect.
I suppose we could be worried about our reputations, status, and community respect, as Spence suggests,1 but it seems more primary to worry about my patient’s ability to get good medical care in a private setting, with my support. In my practice group, we are quite open about our beliefs that women should be able to get abortion care from their primary physicians, and it has brought more patients to our offices rather than fewer. Our patients who find themselves with an unintended pregnancy are enormously relieved to find that they can get their care from us, and they tell their friends and relatives.
Maybe I feel strongly about allowing my patients to come to me for an abortion because I once found myself unintentionally pregnant as a young woman and did not have a private option. I had very few options, actually, because it was before abortion was legal in the United States. I obtained a safe abortion ultimately, but the whole process was very scary and quite traumatising.
Yes, it is a “time of change in abortion.” We can be part of this time of change by providing a needed service. To me, this is what being a physician is all about.
Competing interests: None declared.