From the outset, FPA’s abortion care practice (Harris Institute for Reproductive Health) has had a dual mission: first, to provide the best possible care for Maine women; second, to provide health professionals an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of abortion care.
In fact, we are the only organization in Maine with a formal training program in abortion care. Residents and medical students from throughout New England come here so they can experience first-hand what an abortion clinic is like.
We know that everyone who spends time learning with us is changed by the experience, sometimes in a small way, other times profoundly.
In their words:
“This wasn’t anything like I expected. Everyone is so kind, careful and respectful”.
“Hearing what was in her heart as she made this difficult decision – that’s powerful.”
“Thank you for having me here. I am ‘pro-life’, and you all made me feel welcome.”
“Every medical student should have this experience.”
“We saved this woman’s life today.”
All who come to learn with us are here by choice and are here to learn from the women we care for and from the entire abortion care staff. We make sure that a visiting doctor or student is only included in a patient’s visit when the patient grants permission.
One resident had serious reservations before his rotation began. His faculty encouraged him to come once so he could observe the informed consent process, assuring him he didn’t have to partake in any aspect of the visit unless he chose to do so. After meeting his first patient, he went through the entire visit with her. Then he spent the rest of the day with us learning all that he could from the doctor, staff and patients.
Before he left, he shared with us how different this experience was from what he expected. That night he left a long voicemail full of gratitude and amazement, thanking each of us by name.
Another resident who trained with us sent a card which read:
“I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to spend time in your facility. I never would have imagined that I would find such a caring, healing, holistic and friendly group of people here. It is an amazing place for residents to learn about terminations, follow-up, and the politics. You are all such strong, amazing people who stand up for the rights of women. Thank you. Thank you for all the teaching. I had a wonderful experience.”
Considering that there is no perfect method of birth control, that nearly half of all pregnancies are unintentional, and that one in three women will decide to have an abortion in her lifetime, it is vital that doctors have an opportunity to learn the full range of reproductive health care.
In our 14 years we have trained more than 200 physicians and students who will draw upon this experience as they care for their own patients, regardless of the type of services they offer or where they practice.
To the women who allow doctors and medical students to learn from them, to our incredible staff who love to teach, to the health professionals who come here with open minds, we say…
Thank you. You really are changing the world, one doctor at a time.