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Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department discusses reproductive rights

On Monday, Sept. 19, representatives from the University of Maine’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department (WGS) held the first event in a series of informative, open-to-the-public conversation sessions called “WGS at Work” to help educate students and staff on contemporary issues — this one pertaining to abortion rights and access.

A local board-certified Ob-Gyn, who prefers to stay anonymous, answered questions and educated a crowd of faculty and students alike in the Coe Room of the Memorial Union. Over free coffee, water and pizza, individuals received information on abortion rights around the world, how abortion and Ob-Gyn care is accessed and what the process is like for health practitioners in this field. She expressed her excitement to share information and educate the crowd while breaking the stigma surrounding abortion and reproductive rights in our patriarchal society.

The doctor, who previously operated in conservative parts of the South, emphasized the advantage of living in Maine when it comes to abortion care. Maine’s liberal abortion laws allow for equitable insurance coverage, making reproductive care more affordable and accessible. She also acknowledged that obstetrics and gynecology as a field tend to be rooted in racism, misogyny and patriarchy.

The doctor practices full-spectrum care, meaning they provide abortion access, maternity care, surgeries and more. They shared that one in three women will receive an abortion at some point in their lives and that we are fortunate to live in a liberal state.

They spoke about their previous experiences in the South.

“I’ve had patients leave the state. Maine’s reproductive laws are permissive, and caregivers here tend to accept wider varieties of insurance. There are also a wider variety of abortions available in Maine, like surgical and non-invasive options,” they said.

Reproductive care and abortions are not limited to cisgender women. During the Q&A, there was a discussion on transgender patient care and how sterilization procedures vary between those assigned female at birth and those assigned male. Those assigned male at birth tend to receive easier procedures with more pain treatment, while sterilizations on people assigned female at birth require more paperwork, more invasive surgeries and get less care. Transgender patient care is also extremely important, and the doctor shared that they had personally worked with transgender men in ensuring they had equitable abortion access. They are hoping to dismantle the concept of reproductive health being called women’s health — not to detract from women, but to share resources and make more space for individuals of other identities.

“The number one feeling a patient feels after an abortion procedure is relief,” they said.

Informed consent is a huge factor in providing ethical and equitable abortion care.

“There are risks inherent in abortion, labor and sterilization,” they said.

Being informed about reproductive rights is a major part of healthcare for both patient and practitioner.

More information about the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department can be found on their website.

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