"I think the physician's perspective is extremely important, and one that we don't hear too often in the media," actress and A Is For co-founder Martha Plimpton told Raw Story last night, as she surveyed a room of more than 30 abortion providers and their supporters. They had all gathered in a private location as part of the Physicians For Reproductive Choice And Health (PRCH) awards to honor two of their own.
The awards, named after PRCH co-founder Dr. William Rashbaum and slain former board member Dr. George Tiller, were presented to Dr. Linda Prine, for her long years of work as an abortion provider and her efforts to integrate contraceptive and abortion care into family medicine, and Dr. Margaret Kini, for work providing abortions in the face of adversity, respectively.
Prine told the audience, "We're told we're pushy, strident and aggressive, and it's really nice to be honored for that." One of the leaders in helping doctors integrate abortion care into their existing practices, especially after the FDA's approval of medication abortions, she told Raw Story, "With the abortion pill, providing abortions up to nine weeks is just a matter of counseling and providing a medication to patients." She added, "It's a way to destigmatize and mainstream it, and provide better access to patients."
Kini said in her speech, "I am an abortion provider and a family physician. Somehow the two titles are separate and abortion is out of the realm of primary care," something she said she's seen in both her training and her practice. Kini, who practices in the state of Texas and is thus forced by the state to perform transvaginal ultrasounds on patients seeking early abortions, says she tells her residents who ask why she performs abortion that she does so "For the same reason that I want to be involved in childbirth and end-of-life care. These are the pivotal moments in the health of a woman in which we are privileged to be her doctor."
Dr. Anne Davis, PRCH's Consulting Medical Director, told Raw Story, "I wish we had more ways to talk about how abortion can be integrated into medical care, about the real stories rather than the one-off circumstances that make headlines and get political, just to show people that this is you, this is me, these are real people." She added, "The reasons people seek abortion, these are ordinary stories."
A group of young doctors agreed. Dr. Sarah Miller, who's been in practice for 6 years, told Raw Story, "There are so many misconception about who goes to us. As primary care physicians [who also perform abortions], we see everyone: the people who picket the clinics come in and get abortions from us. The parents of the children we see come in and get abortions from us. The teenagers we see in our practices come in and get abortions from us."
She added, "We're trying to provide compassionate care to women, to provide information to help women make decisions and we've having to fight all these other battles just to do that." Dr. Amita Murthy, in practice for ten years, said, "The focus on assuming that women can't make decisions is infuriating."
Murthy said, "The political climate right now is clearly anti-woman. Every time I hear about these bills [restricting abortion] I want to go off the grid to prevent myself from becoming a Handmaiden," a reference to Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale.
Plimpton, who was invited to the event because of her work on reproductive rights, said, "I'd like there to be more true, honest reflections of the realities of women's lives in media and entertainment." She added, "Women's health and reproductive health gets put into this 'shame' category, something to be ashamed of, to be quiet about, something to never talk about, something to be embarrassed about."
"Shame never helped anyone stay healthy. Shame never helped anyone avoid an unintended pregnancy, get treated for a disease, get access to contraception, make the decisions that are right for them. Shame is just used to keep women quiet," Plimpton added.