Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blinded with science

When I was very little, I decided I would never be a doctor because kids disliked doctors, and I didn't want to be disliked. In middle school, I eschewed the sciences because they gave me anxiety attacks. As a high schooler, I declared that I would never work any place that had stirrups (I disliked both horses and what little I knew of gynecology, so it worked out). And in college, I avoided the math and science buildings like an anti-choicer avoids logic and reason. When I started working at the clinic, it was because of the opportunity to advocate for women and reproductive justice, and for those causes, I could overlook the stirrups.

I was never the number one candidate for the really clinic-y part of clinic work. For a while, I focused on counseling, administrative work, advocacy, and interpreting, and I left the medical side to the professionals. But the more time I spent at the clinic, the more I found myself jumping at the chance to observe procedures and asking clinicians about the hows and whys. For fun, I learned how to prick my own finger and test my own hematocrit. I taught myself medical abbreviations and Googled hypothetical drug interactions in my free time. I became fascinated by the way a chromosomal shift can wreak havoc and also, how a body knows how to restore itself.

I also became the amateur gynecological resource for friends, and I offered my party trick of suggesting the best contraceptive for your life in under five minutes. And I never felt like more of a true science nerd than when I saw Iron and Wine in concert and kept seeing "Fe and Wine" in my head. Except maybe for when my brain automatically transliterated "salt" to "NaCl." Formerly an avowed humanities major, I'm now a walking periodic table.

So thanks, pro-choice movement, for having the unexpected side effect (ha--see what I did there?) of turning me on to science and medicine. Maybe if my high school chemistry teacher had explained molecular structures in terms of pharmacology instead of hexagons on a paper, I would be holding a B.S. degree right now. (If not an M.D.)


  1. I have avoided science like the plague and after working in abortion provision for over 5 years I feel more than sure I want to pursue a career in medicine, probably nursing, and maybe even MD. I wish I had a stronger back round in science but I guess thats what prerequisites are for. I really appreciate this post!

  2. I can relate. When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, practically nothing grossed me out and I enjoyed biology in high school. But I got my ass kicked by chemistry - that kept me away from science in college for the most part (I did end up taking intro biology and anatomy/physiology courses for science majors though - both of them were brutally hard but I passed). After Dr. Tiller was murdered, I seriously wished I had tried harder. Had I become a doctor I would have gone into abortion care.

  3. Thanks D, for saying what we're all thinking: we all sacrificed much higher-paying jobs, but pretend that we like it that way :D


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.