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language

Jun 24

Abortion is Not A “Bad Thing”

When I give a presentation about the abortion services we provide in our family medicine clinic,  people often ask, “Do you have a counselor to meet with your patients to help them?” I’m a bit put off by this question. I want to say, “It’s my patients with a new diagnosis of diabetes or high blood…

Apr 16

Diminishing Shame

I work once a week at a high volume abortion site.  When I’m there I often don’t have the chance to have much of an interaction with the patients in the minute or so that I see them before the anesthesia takes effect.  But the other day, I had a quick conversation that really stuck…

Jan 30

What’s in a Name (or a Tagline)?

A couple of years ago, when the Reproductive Health Access Project celebrated its 5th anniversary, we created a special tagline to mark the occasion:  making choices real.  I loved it.  I still love it.   It telegraphs the fact that, even though abortion and contraception are legal, many women still face tremendous barriers in accessing this…

Oct 10

Language in the Exam Room

The medical students and residents we train are often surprised at the emphasis we put on language in the exam room. Take this recent story from a family doctor in our practice who was working with a medical student: While examining the patient she [the medical student] used phrases like, “Scoot your bottom down until…

Jun 27

I Know Why the Caged Birds RHAP

“If she were a normal patient…” Physicians use the words “normal” and “abnormal” to differentiate lab values and physical exam findings. But on this evening in particular, in our student-run free clinic in Pennsylvania, our patient had no apparent anomalies.  When the physician implied she was abnormal, he wasn’t referring to her health. He was…