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Termination education

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:0405215
  1. Robert Roose, MD MPH student1
  1. 1George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC

Robert Roose, president of Medical Students for Choice reflects on the gaps in reproductive healthcare education in the United States

“There is to be no discussion of contraceptive options with any of the patients here. And there will be no abortions done either. Period.” The words rocketed straight from the obstetrics and gyn-ecology resident's mouth just two weeks ago--but it could have been 100 years. Although nearly a quarter of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion,1 and contraceptives are some of the most prescribed drugs, some medical institutions do not provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare education and training for its students and residents--31 years after the legalisation of abortion.

Every morning before the sun rises on the obstetrics floor at Holy Cross Hospital, the medical students, residents, and attending doctor meet to discuss patients in morning rounds. The progress of women in labour is reviewed, the condition of patients who have just given birth is discussed, and their management is debated. In theory, at the intersection of patient care and medical education, this conversation should be both welcoming and comprehensive. However, as I quickly found out, that is not the case.

For eight weeks I helped do prenatal visits, monitored women in labour, delivered babies, and cared for postpartum patients. But I never witnessed one elective abortion, counselled …

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