The Washington Post Magazine published an excellent piece yesterday about one practical barrier to fulfilling a woman’s Roe v. Wade right: Finding doctors who will perform the practice. The piece, by Patricia Meisol, focuses on pro-choice medical student Lesley Wojick‘s struggle to make her own choice—-whether or not to become an abortion provider.
The choice, Meisol writes, is a complicated one, dependent on a student’s morals, passions, aptitude, and drive. Students interested in performing abortions explore the possibility “largely on their own,” Meisol writes. Without the help of their medical schools, these students seek out mentors, fight the stigma of wanting to become “baby killers,” use abortion tools to gut papayas like wombs. Wojick’s big test, Meisol writes, is sitting in on an actual abortion procedure.
The next morning, Lesley arrived at 7:30. The woman with the red heels asked for a printout of her ultrasound and wanted to know the sex of the 14-week-old fetus. It couldn’t be determined. . . . This time, the procedure took 10 minutes instead of five. The dilator was bigger; there was more tissue to remove; and the patient, although sedated, was awake and moving with discomfort. Lesley watched as the doctor counted the parts of the fetus, and, to her surprise, she didn’t find it jarring. To her, the parts appeared doll-like.
“It was definitely gruesome,” she said. “You could make out what a fetus could look like, tiny feet, lungs, but it didn’t look like a person.” She knew this abortion was an act that her friend Litty considered tantamount to murder. She herself expected to be very upset. She’d felt that way at her first autopsy, that of a teenage boy who’d shot himself in the head. For weeks, she could not shake the image of the boy. But this was different. She didn’t regard the fetus as a person yet. She said she was happy to help the woman: “I feel like I was giving [her] a new lease” on life.
Later that morning, though, while conducting a pelvic exam, Lesley noted that she wasn’t her usual slow, gentle self. That evening, discussing the second-term abortion with her mother, Lesley described a process that she found disturbingly brutal, especially the stretching of the vagina.
Wojick ultimately decided not to pursue the abortion-provider track. You can ask her about her decision at noon today, when Wojick and Meisol will be online to discuss the story.