My dignity as a woman and future physician threatened

“There are no words,” I posted on social media, in response to the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The notion of overturning Roe elicits an axiomatic flurry of emotion within me. While my eyes welled with tears and I laid awake sleepless, I recognized my social media post. Although I feel immense helplessness, my words are my only power and defense. During this unprecedented time, I will not be silenced.

Overturning Roe not only threatens my dignity as a woman but also as a future physician. As a female and hopeful reproductive psychiatrist, I feel deeply called to advocate for women’s reproductive rights and the human right to access safe abortion services. In honor of the exceptionally courageous individuals who have had or will have an abortion, the many people who will lose access to abortion care in their state, medical professionals who feel devastated, and all my fellow reproductive advocates – I stand with you. Admittedly, it is not comfortable to publicly share opinions on such polarizing and politically charged topics, but no other issue provokes such passion in me. Using my voice is the least of what our strong, female, activist predecessors would ask of me.

As I graduate from medical school this week and become a resident physician, I reflect on the many patients I have had the privilege of helping to care for. Although every patient encounter offers unique opportunities for education, certain moments in my training stand out as significantly impactful. Participating in reproductive counseling with patients and caring for them as they made their own reproductive choices has been the training I feel most honored to have taken part in. Unforgotten are the times I spent sitting with a patient who had traveled from Texas as she ultimately decided to end her pregnancy. While experiencing emotions of grief, she expressed gratitude for the safe access New Mexico provided. Minutes later, my energy shifts as I am smiling with a different patient. We celebrate her healthy planned pregnancy while watching her fetus move on ultrasound. I feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the many individuals who allowed me the opportunity to share that space with them, as they practiced patient autonomy, making their personal reproductive decisions. While their choices were emotionally heavy and difficult to make, I was captivated by the strength and empowerment these patients embodied. It was their body, their choice.

As the human right to access safe abortion services is threatened, I feel devalued as a future provider, human and woman. I struggle to understand why politicians were given the power to govern my body and how politics dictates reproduction. While I take pride in living in New Mexico, a state that protects reproductive rights, I simultaneously hurt for those who cannot say the same.

Months ago, I attended a reproductive psychiatry conference with my cousin, a reproductive psychiatry fellow and my dearest friend. We were inspired by the assertive, passionate and courageous officers. Undoubtably, banning abortion will influence our medical practices, negatively impacting women’s mental health. Although this elicits fear and concern, I have never felt prouder to be a woman with a voice. I have immense admiration for the women who marched before me and fought for reproductive rights and those who currently stand with me. The fight continues.

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