Roe v. Wade overturned: A family medicine resident reacts


My first thought when I heard the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade was of a patient of mine who I had been privileged to meet earlier in my residency. She was a child when she became pregnant after a nonconsensual encounter with a much older man.

I remember how small and shy she looked, curled into herself in her too-large hospital gown. I remember thinking that it was autumn, and she should have been at her first homecoming dance, not sitting in the ER staring mutely at the hospital-issued safety socks on her feet. Her mother, puffy-eyed from crying, was sitting on the bed beside her, stroking her hair.

Together, my patients and I talked about the pregnancy. She told me how scared she was, how she didn’t want to “kill her baby”, but that she also wasn’t sure she could take care of a child. She told me that she was terrified of childbirth, that she didn’t want her friends at school to know and to judge her. We talked about how she was a victim; how she was an innocent child, too. I reassured her, and her mom emphatically agreed – her body was still her own.

Victoria Persampiere, DO

Dr. Victoria Persampiere

The man who hurt her did not take that from her. She could make any choice she wanted, and it would be the right choice.

Eventually, she was able to make a decision which was best for her. I don’t know what became of her, but I hope she is well now, and I hope she’s thriving and happy. I also hope that she doesn’t see the news about Roe v. Wade and feel stripped of her personhood, as many women did.

When I heard about the Supreme Court decision I thought of her, and how important our conversation was to the trajectory of her life. I wondered if across the country these conversations might be silenced, and patients might be left to navigate this important facet of their health alone.

Some version of the conversation I had with my young patient occurs in exam rooms across the country countless times a day. Sometimes these conversations are cut and dry. Other times, they are accompanied by heartbreak and tears.

These conversations are common – one in four women in the United States have had an abortion. I have had many friends who were faced with deciding what to do after an unexpectedly positive pregnancy test. The reasons were different for each person – one was raped at a party, another’s birth control failed, the boyfriend of a third friend wouldn’t wear a condom – but the underlying sentiments were the same for each woman. They thought: “This is a difficult choice, but it’s a choice I’m ready to make. I’m not ready to have a baby at this point in my life.”

My friends talked to their doctors, who assisted them in making an informed choice. Some of them chose abortion. Others chose to deliver their baby. All were helped along in their decision by a physician who was there to support them and assist them in making a well-considered choice for their individual circumstance.


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