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How Med Students Put Abortion Back In The Classroom

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MARK RICHARDSŚCONTACT FOR TIME

Class Action: Steinauer, center, with Stanford and UCSF med students

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Some MSFC activists are motivated by their own experiences with abortion. But many join for reasons more educational than political, and plenty are themselves queasy about the procedure. Kerri Faughnan, a medical student at the University of Colorado, split her time in an ob-gyn elective between an in-vitro and an abortion clinic. Swinging between women desperately in love with their eight-week-old fetuses to others desperate to be rid of theirs left her discomfited by abortion. But she echoes others in arguing that with studies estimating that 43% of women will have an abortion by the time they are 45, this is a procedure she needs to understand.

And many med students say they deserve a chance to discover their limits--Do they have the nerve to terminate a first-trimester pregnancy? A second-trimester?--before choosing to specialize in ob-gyn. Faughnan decided she could perform only first-trimester abortions. "People need to come to decisions on their own," says Elizabeth Dodge, a student at the University of Texas-Southwestern. "Before, the choice was effectively taken away because we were given no information."

The most important test of MSFC begins now, as the first wave of members leave their residencies and launch their careers. Will they actually provide abortions? Will those who do be stuck in the specialty clinics that are easy targets for abortion opponents? Or will they lobby to perform abortions in hospitals or in their private offices as a small part of a larger practice? At least now, educated in the procedure, these students are equipped to choose.

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