It’s probably obvious to readers of this blog that I’m a feminist. It’s sort of funny how stereotypical I am: a queer women’s studies major who worked in family planning and now works in community health, trying her damndest to make the world a more just and liberal place. The only things missing are the flowing hippy pants and the Teva shoes. Occasionally I have a feminist meltdown at work.
One such meltdown happened the other day when one of our caseworkers told me about a doctor who refused to give a patient emergency contraception. This particular patient is a single parent with medical problems. She showed up to the clinic 14 days ago, stating that she had sex with her partner and wanted emergency contraception. She had used a condom, but was afraid that it might have broken. Hmm…a single parent, terrified that she might get pregnant again despite the use of a condom? A Plan B rx sounds perfect, right?? Wrong.
The resident asked the attending about the prescription. According to the caseworker (who was there because she works with the patient), the words “abortion pill” were bandied about during the case presentation. Seriously people, how long has Plan B been available? It’s not a fucking abortion pill! Mifepristone is the abortion pill! The attending physician went in to talk to the patient, and asked her things like “Did you see him put the condom on the erect penis?” and “Was there ejaculate inside the condom when he was done?” (hello…gross and awkward?) THEN the physician told the patient that he wasn’t going to give her Plan B “because you aren’t going to get pregnant because you used a condom”(!) He also gave her some other misinformation, telling her that Plan B would make her terribly nauseous and sick and that she shouldn’t use it unless it was “really necessary.” Here’s my position: If a woman thinks she’s at risk of getting pregnant, it’s necessary. Plan B is so safe that it’s available over the counter and almost any woman can take it! Studies have shown that it doesn’t affect women’s risk-taking behavior! It doesn’t affect an already implanted pregnancy! What the hell more could you want out of a medication?
The patient was sent on her way with a baseline pregnancy test and advised to come back to see me in 2 weeks for repeat pregnancy test results. Ha–this is where I get to flex my prescriptive powers! The patient came in to see me today and left the clinic with a rx for Plan B (with 2 refills) and advice to fill the Plan B script in advance so that she doesn’t have to call and talk to her jackass of a PCP if it ever happens again. Damn you, The Man!