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Three Fallacies and One Card

Before I decided to apply to medical school, my father said, “Pam, you should become a doctor. You’ll have a lifelong skill, help people, and be your own boss. Hang out your shingle, and then you’re in business.” I nodded, trying to envision the words on my potential shingle.

At a medical school lecture an elderly male ob-gyn declared, “Abortion must always be legal because no contraception is 100% effective, and there will always thus be unintended pregnancies.” I wanted to give him a standing ovation and hug him – for seeing and hearing women and those who care about women.

As a pregnant attending, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I attended a birth and “caught” the baby. I phrase it that way because I didn’t deliver the baby. The pregnant woman did all the work. I will never forget the new father’s words. “America is such a beautiful country. Why would anyone want to hurt it?” The mother and father had recently emigrated from a nation that persecuted its citizens. It was an honor for me to behold his gratitude and humility.

In hindsight, I consider these three fallacies, unbeknownst to their speakers.

Dad: I have chosen to work for a community health center, rather than in my own private practice. I have a boss who pays my salary. I am also not the boss of my medical decision making. My options for caring for pregnant people are dictated by politicians interested in their own power, not the well-being of people and families.

Ob-gyn lecturer: You busted my unfair stereotype of you as a white elderly male with your insistence that abortion be a health care right. Tragically, your view is now anachronistic, as Roe has been overturned.

New Father: The beauty of America has been tarnished by lawmakers who seek to repeal human rights, who waste careers and countless dollars hurting, rather than helping, inhabitants of this nation.

I console myself with a treasured memory: I had the privilege of providing medical abortions as they became legal, at a different practice, years ago. On Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, I received a card thanking me for my work. My heart swelled because . . . I WAS the boss of my patient-centered medical care. I increased legal abortion access. And, in doing so, I helped secure the well-being of people in this potentially beautiful country.

Pamela Adelstein
Newton, Massachusetts


1 thought on “Three Fallacies and One Card”

  1. Warren Holleman

    This is such a poignant snapshot of the trajectory of medicine, law, and culture in the past few decades. Let’s hope this current trend is temporary! Thank you for sharing your story–one that many will resonate with. I know I did.

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