In the spring of 1993, tens of thousands of medical students across the U.S. received an anti-choice pamphlet at their homes. The offensive, meant-to-intimidate tone of the brochure can be most quickly conveyed by a "joke" that said: "Q: What would you do if you were in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist and you had a gun with only two bullets? A: Shoot the abortionist twice."
Soon after that, Dr. David Gunn, a Florida abortion provider, was murdered. Medical students across the country began to realize that, as future physicians, they were targets of anti-choice extremists. At the same time, they were noticing that abortion was being excluded from their medical education. Students and young doctors were ill-prepared to counsel women about their reproductive health options. Moreover, they were ill-equipped to decide whether to offer abortion services.
In the face of an increasingly violent anti-choice climate, Jody Steinauer, M.D., a University of California at San Francisco medical student at the time, joined with a handful of students to place a stake in the ground: if a woman was going to have reproductive choices in the future, medical students needed to learn about abortion in school, be trained in abortion in residency, and find support as future abortion providers.
Jody and her colleagues realized that abortion would only remain a feasible option for women if medical students chose to become abortion providers after graduation and residency. And, further, that the choice to become providers could only be made if students knew that it was a legitimate option. They sought to destigmatize reproductive healthcare and abortion among both medical students and medical school administrators, and to advocate for its inclusion in the curricula of their schools. From this small group of impassioned students a national network emerged, and Medical Students for Choice became an organization with a powerful vision and agenda.
Today MSFC is an internationally known non-profit organization with a successful track record and a network of over 10,000 medical students and residents in North America and abroad. Our work has led to curriculum reform, expanded training opportunities, increased awareness of reproductive rights among policymakers, and support of students’ grassroots efforts across North America!
If you would like to learn more about MSFC’s mission and programs, or join us in our work, please contact us at:
Medical Students for Choice
PO Box 40188
Philadelphia, PA 19106