G1P0 or Gravida 1, Para 0. Well, turns out that’s me. It’s very common in the medical field to use this phrase to describe women who have been pregnant but do not have any living children. This could have been due to miscarriage or worse yet, intrauterine fetal demise at later staged pregnancies. Or it could be due to an elective termination. For me, it was the latter.
I had never been pregnant, and the idea of having a child was very far from my mind. Having just started my surgical residency, I simply could not be pregnant. Lo and behold three pregnancy tests I took while at work told me otherwise. My husband and I were then faced with a decision. Both of us as newly minted physicians faced an incredible amount of student debt and several years of 80-hour work weeks ahead of us. We could not possibly be parents — not now. Sleep deprived from an overnight call shift and feeling tremendously financially insecure with my four-digit savings account, I panicked, cried and then began my search for an OB/GYN who was licensed to perform abortions in my city.
My search did not take too long. A few seconds of online searching directed me to a 24-hour hotline for reproductive health services in New York City. It was only a few minutes later that I had an appointment within two days for an abortion.
Walking into that clinic as a patient made me feel powerless, even though I knew it was the right decision to make. The staff went above and beyond to create an environment that was supportive of my needs. The physician who would be performing my abortion spoke to me with such candor and understanding. There was no judgment.
I was very fortunate to be in a state that valued women’s reproductive freedom and access to abortions. As a physician and a woman, it deeply concerns me that the degree of access to abortion is not universal in this nation and had I been in another part of the country, my ability to make decisions regarding my reproductive health could have been compromised. This would have caused major financial hardship and potentially jeopardized my career.
The degree of rhetoric and misinformation that has permeated the recent campaign is also very concerning. My abortion like most abortions occurred very early in gestation. According to the CDC, of the total abortions performed in the U.S. in 2013, 91.6 percent were at fewer than 13 weeks gestation, with only 7.1 percent being performed between 14 ti 20 weeks gestation. That leaves only 1.3 percent of abortions occurring after 20 weeks. The reasons for terminations beyond 20 weeks usually are due to severe fetal malformations resulting in non-viability of the fetus or severe health issues of the mother. Lastly, when President Trump spoke in a debate of an OB “ripping a baby out of the womb just before birth” he was referring to a Caesarean section, not an abortion. All viable pregnancies, especially at nine months, are delivered even in cases of emergencies.
To end, making the decision to have an abortion is a very personal one. I, like many women I have counseled regarding terminations, do look forward to having children one day when the time is right. I urge our New York State congressional leadership to make quick strides in protecting Roe vs. Wade at the state level, and thereby ensuring women from all walks of life are able to make decisions regarding their bodies. Should Roe vs. Wade be overturned in the coming year by a new Supreme Court, women will lose their reproductive rights in New York State, and that is certainly something we cannot stand for.
The author is an anonymous physician.
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