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Forging a brighter future for reproductive health

By Josh Friesen
For Ignite Magazine
Photos by Jason Hill

In the wake of increased efforts to restrict reproductive health access across the U.S., OHSU has made its stance clear: Abortion is health care.

“It’s critical to have a community around us that recognizes and supports the care that we’re doing,” said Alison Edelman, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and division director of Complex Family Planning in the OHSU School of Medicine. “It’s this support that enables us to provide this essential health care and expand services to meet the existing need for Oregonians while also caring for those forced to travel to our state.”

Since the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, 21 states have banned or severely restricted access to abortion. As a result, an influx of out-of-state patients have come to OHSU to receive abortion care.

“It was a rarity that we’d see someone from out of state before the Dobbs decision,” Edelman said. “Now, we’re seeing folks weekly traveling from not just Idaho, but from Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kansas — states we’ve never had patients from before.”

Edelman acknowledges sexual and reproductive health care has always been stigmatized. Many don’t understand the critical role abortion has in preventing maternal morbidity and mortality.

As an academic health center and one of the only hospital- and clinic-based abortion providers in the state, OHSU is uniquely equipped to address challenges to reproductive health access, serving both as a training and research hub and as a referral center for community providers and patients who require complex care.

It’s critical to have a community around us that recognizes and supports the care that we’re doing.”

Alison Edelman

For Edelman, training the next generation of OB-GYN providers, including those practicing in states where abortion care training is banned or restricted, is a major priority. Resident trainees in restrictive states are now coming to OHSU and the Center for Women’s Health for this training.

The path to a brighter future is there to be forged.

“The most important thing is to continue ensuring we have the ability to provide people the medical care they need and deserve to have,” Edelman said. “The team and the trainees coming through are amazing and so dedicated to the care. That gives me hope.”

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