Abortion Care: Did I Provide My Best?

It’s funny how sometimes, long after the fact, you start questioning your levels of care and competence.

During my first rotation of internship (last year), which was Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I was one of the few interns willing to do pregnancy terminations. (For the purposes of this blog, the matter is not up for debate – I have been pro-choice for nearly half my life, and have thoroughly evaluated my own beliefs.)

Just recently I’ve found myself thinking back on those four months and wondering if I did everything I could, and if I was empathic enough.

OBGYN was a high-stress environment. Delivering babies was gratifying, but being responsible for two lives in a single case scenario is always tough. The infection-risk is high because bodily fluids splash during delivery. The patient load is huge.

And we got stressed. And some days I was not my kindest self. And I’m certain that some days, my levels of empathy were low.

I saw a lot of patients who wanted to terminate their pregnancies, so it stands to reason that I saw some of them on my “tired” days.

I know that my behaviour towards my patients was beyond reproach. I was never rude or insensitive. I know that my clinical care was good because when I did not know what to do, I always involved a senior (which was regularly because I was very junior).

But I think back and I wonder, “Did I do enough?”

Did I make sure my behaviour was such that aborting women knew they had a supporter in me? Did I ensure them that they were not being judged? That they did not need to explain themselves to me?

When they left my consulting room into a world where they most likely could not tell anybody of what had happened, did they leave knowing that at least one person was in their corner?

Most importantly: did they leave feeling empowered?

Because choosing to terminate is not just a matter of discontinuing an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not just a matter of choice, of a right hard-won. It’s a matter of being empowered to make decisions about one’s life and one’s future; and in this way it signifies the control she can take of other aspects of her life, too.

Did my patients feel empowered?

I don’t know.

But this single thought has me wishing I could go back, and do those four months again.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s