Letter to the editor: A note from your future doctors

In response to the Sept. 18 article entitled “While we weren’t watching,” we wanted to emphasize some key points where our views both align and diverge from those of the author.

by Letter to the Editor

We are a group of future physicians that believe reproductive justice is at the core of a healthy Minnesota. The three components of reproductive justice are 1) the right to have children, 2) the right to not have children and 3) the right to raise children in safe communities. One critical component of this intersectional vision is access to abortion as part of basic health care. 

In response to the Sept. 18 columnentitled “While we weren’t watching,” we wanted to emphasize some key points where our views both align and diverge from those of the author. 

We share the same core beliefs with the author and agree on many of her points. First, we agree abortion restrictions limit more than pregnancy options for our future patients — these regulations limit their future health and opportunities to thrive over the course of their lives. We also agree that anti-abortion extremists in our state leadership have a tight grasp around basic health care delivery, and that these insidious and persistent efforts to limit delivery of basic health care are a genuine threat to the health of all Minnesotans.

When a person decides to have an abortion, it should be safe, affordable, available in their community and free from punishment or judgement. Abortion is a part of comprehensive pregnancy care. Pregnancy care is health care. Health care is a fundamental human right. 

Still, framing opinions on pregnancy care by using phrases like “minors have no business being pregnant” and “ending a pregnancy is one of the hardest feats a person can go through” transforms a well-intended argument — perhaps inadvertently — into a judgement. This language implies that pregnancy is a monolithic and universally-desired experience. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. 

As medical trainees, we are sensitive to the power of words and how they convey our underlying assumptions. While some patients struggle with the decision to seek an abortion, some do not. While some patients receiving abortion care come from poor communities, some do not. While some patients who get abortions identify as women, some do not

As soon as we start stratifying a hierarchy of “good” and “bad” reasons to seek medical care, we jeopardize our role as your trusted educators, respected counsel and future physicians. 

Written by Rachael Gotlieb and Sara Lederman, MPH (M.D. candidates, class of 2022) 

Co-signed with support from members of the UMN-Twin Cities Medical School chapter of Medical Students for Choice: 

Ruthie Baker; Katherine Beck-Esmay; Kristin Chu; Jade Cohen; Annika Deitermann;  Cecelia Di Caprio; Anna Dovre; Balia Elkin; Samantha Gibson; Brooke Hendricks; Kristine Nachbor; Malina Peterson; Corrine Praska; Jessica Sukharan; Julia Weston; Taylor Wicklund; Riley Shearer.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.