Courtesy of Pratima Gupta

I'm Pregnant. I'm A Mom. I'm Also An Abortion Provider.

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I am a pregnant abortion provider who is pro-life. By that, I mean that my work as an obstetrician/gynecologist in the Bay Area is conducted in service of women’s lives, not just those of their unborn children. I provide care with respect, compassion, and dignity, whether my patient needs an abortion or prenatal care, a cancer screening, or if she’s in labor. When I say I’m "pro-life," I mean that the literal sense of the word “life,” not the way it's been twisted by anti-choice advocates who want to shame, punish, and control women, their bodies, and their choices.

In my opinion (and in my work), there is nothing “pro-life” about policies that force clinics to close and put women’s health at risk. There is nothing “pro-life” about denying women the ability to make decisions about their own lives. There is nothing “pro-life” about taking away a woman’s health coverage for abortion, forcing her to the economic, emotional, and physical brink. On the contrary, abortion providers like me give women and families their lives back, save women’s lives, and help to ensure the health and safety of their current and future children. Though some may argue that being a pregnant mom who's also an abortion provider somehow makes me a “hypocrite,” I'll say this: I see no conflict of interest. I have a duty to my patients. I also have a duty to myself, and mine is very much a wanted pregnancy.

In the course of my work recently, there have been moments when I've been at the same stage in my pregnancy as patients I'm providing an abortion for. It gives me cause for reflection, especially when I consider the anti-abortion myths that have helped shape the way we talk about abortion, and the assumption that women aren’t “smart” or “thoughtful” enough to make their own decisions about an unwanted pregnancy. But the reality is this: Women are smart and thoughtful enough to make those choices. In fact, women who have made the decision to have abortions do so carefully, seriously, and with full awareness of what it means to end a pregnancy. After all, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 59 percent of women who have abortions are already moms.

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Courtesy of Pratima Gupta

Recently, I’ve felt my fetus kick mid-procedure, and it reminds me that I am on this pregnancy journey as well as my patients — I'm just taking a different path. It can be jarring to be so physically reminded of my own pregnancy as I am ending the pregnancy of another woman, but it doesn’t make me any less committed to being an abortion provider, and it doesn't change or alter my opinion of my patients by any means.

I was particularly drawn to the field of family planning because I became a doctor to help people live their lives with health and dignity. My work as an abortion provider allows me to do that.
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Patients often ask me if it is difficult for me to provide their abortions because of my own pregnancy, and my response is simple and honest: “It's not your time now, but it is for me. If and when you decide to become a parent, I will be by your side then, too.” And I will. I am fortunate in knowing that mine is a planned and desired pregnancy. And precisely because I know how profound and personal the decision to continue a pregnancy is, I continue to support all women who seek an abortion. All too often we frame the reason for an abortion as reactionary — something had to happen to these women for them to want to end the developing fetuses inside them. But in my opinion, the only “good” or “necessary” reason they need to give — if they even feel comfortable giving one at all — for wanting an abortion is that they no longer want to be pregnant. Some of my colleagues will give preferential treatment or priority to women seeking abortions for fetal anomalies, but this is contrary to my medical and ethical practice of beneficence.

Right now my 4-year-old son understands what I do for work as “helping ladies.” When he's old enough to ask more detailed questions, I’ll be proud to tell him that I help women realize the decisions they’ve made about their lives, pregnancies, and futures. I’ll tell him that I'm there for women who want to end a pregnancy as well as those who want to become parents because I want to normalize abortion as part of the health career I willingly chose.

No one should be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will — certainly not because some politician wants to interfere, their local provider has been defunded, or because their insurance doesn’t cover their care.
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I’ve often been told by my patients and their partners that I don’t look like an abortion provider, and that I'm “much nicer” than my patients were expecting. I've been an abortion provider for nearly 12 years, and I respond to each comment in the same way: I support my patients in a non-judgmental manner, whatever their decisions, whatever their reasons. I add that I was particularly drawn to the field of family planning because I became a doctor to help people live their lives with health and dignity. My work as an abortion provider allows me to do that.

In fact, many of the patients who see me for abortion care will then request that I provide their prenatal care in a subsequent pregnancy. To me, this means I'm truly giving women quality care that respects their decisions and safeguards their health and lives. Women who give birth and women who seek abortion are not “different” women — they’re the same women, only at different points in their journeys, operating under different and unique circumstances. In my career as an obstetrician and gynecologist, I serve patients for life. Over time, I can care for (and protect) the same patient for sexually-transmitted infection screenings, pap smears, birth control, prenatal care, deliver their baby, end a pregnancy, and consult on menopause. There are often days when I’ll provide an abortion for one woman and deliver a baby for another within a few hours of each other — this is the continuum of my life.

I trust my patients to make the right choice for themselves, just as I have made this one for myself.
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As I embark into this new world as mother of a newborn, I am readying myself for the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, stresses, worries, and toll on my mind and body. I am doing my best to plan for the logistical, financial, and social supports my family will need to thrive, all while I juggle the demands of a baby and toddler. All of this serves to remind me that no one should be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will — certainly not because some politician wants to interfere, their local provider has been defunded, or because their insurance doesn’t cover their care.

To those who might critique the decisions of my patients, or my own decision to provide abortion care, the commitment to become a parent (or have another child) is one of the most important decisions a person can make. I trust my patients to make the right choice for themselves, just as I have made this one for myself. I'm honored to support the women I care for as they choose to (or not to) create life, and I hope that we can move toward a day when each and every woman is supported, trusted, and respected for their choices. That's the future I want for my patients, and my children too.

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