When I first moved to Asheville, North Carolina, I didn’t know what to expect. I have no connections to the South. I moved here to do my residency in family medicine, and I ended up staying. I am now one of the few abortion providers in my region.
Asheville is a progressive oasis in an abortion desert. I see patients from Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. I know people who have traveled over four hours to reach my clinic. Sometimes it’s because their nearest clinic is too full, sometimes it’s because my clinic is the closest option around.
Due to logistical and legislative restrictions in my region, I can’t bundle all of my clinical services and provide full-spectrum reproductive health care within one practice. Everything is siloed. I’ve treated a patient in my family medicine practice, only to see her later at an abortion clinic. When she saw me, she gave me an enormous hug, like it was a huge relief to see me, someone she trusted to provide her the care she needed.
I believe that’s the beauty of family medicine in reproductive health care. We treat people in all stages of life. We know their families, their medical histories. Some of my patients open up to me with the most intimate details of their life. Given all of this information, I feel I am uniquely positioned to provide care that considers the patient before, during, and well after their abortion.
I believe that reproductive health care doesn’t have to be separate from other forms of health care, especially in family medicine. That’s why I lead the Reproductive Health Access Network‘s North Carolina cluster. In this dire political climate for abortion care givers, we need allies. Our NC cluster is a place of support, an automatic community of like-minded clinicians working towards the same goal.
If you’re a primary care clinician interested in integrating reproductive health care into your practice, you can email RHAP’s National Organizer Laura Riker to get started.
Dr. Julia Oat-Judge co-leads the Reproductive Health Access Network‘s North Carolina cluster.