Student petitioners with the unrecognized group Medical Students for Choice have started a fundraiser to raise money for an off-campus medical workshop after meeting with Georgetown University School of Medicine administrators about an April 26 petition.
MSC, a group made up of GUSOM students, created a petition after GUSOM administrators stopped the group from hosting their annual “Papaya Workshop” on university grounds. After the creation of the petition, GUSOM administrators met with MSC members April 27. GUSOM agreed at the meeting to help the group arrange a location to host the “Papaya Workshop” at a medical training facility that is off-campus and not affiliated with Georgetown University, according to an update on the petition’s website.
The workshop, which the group put on to teach Georgetown medical students about first trimester abortion and miscarriage management using papayas, had been facilitated on campus premises the past two years. The location, agreed upon in the meeting because it is off-campus, will provide MSC with all equipment necessary for a full-spectrum abortion training. The group has also arranged for medical students to be granted access to the space for future trainings, according to the update.
MSC created the fundraiser after the meeting with administrators and hopes to collect money to cover student transportation to and from the workshop location which GUSOM will not cover for students. Since its creation, the fundraiser has collected $690 at the time of print, $190 more than its initial goal, and has been shared on Facebook 22 times.
For a medical student to receive abortion training currently, they must get placed at a separate hospital by a lottery system, according to fourth year candidate for a doctorate in medicine and philosophy and petition author Allison O’Connell.
The university’s initial choice to stop the event was unacceptable given that MSC had planned the workshop in accordance with university rules, O’Connell wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The administration’s initial response to this event was to force it off-campus, without providing any assistance, guidance or explanation to group leaders mere days before the event was set to happen despite it having been planned in accordance with institutional policy weeks in advance,” O’Connell wrote. “These actions went beyond not providing abortion training and entered a realm were the administration was actively preventing students self-organized medical education.”
The lack of abortion and miscarriage education contradicts the GUSOM mission statement, which supports the education of students to become knowledgeable, ethical, skillful and compassionate physicians, according to the petition.
“Actively denying students the opportunity to learn about a legal and safe medical procedure while in training at Georgetown is a disservice to students’ education and career preparation and is in direct opposition with the GUSOM mission,” the petition reads.
The petition has garnered 1,730 signatures as of press time and has been shared with the GUSOM Office of Medical Education and the Office of Student Affairs. The petition argues that MSC followed all policies set forth by the administration, including not posting the event on the official school event calendars and not using school email listservs to advertise this event.
Abortion is not permitted in Catholic hospitals, including the Georgetown University Medical Center, in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The GUSOM curriculum currently does not offer abortion training.
Medical professionals need to have abortion training, since abortion is an extremely commonplace medical procedure in the medical world, according to fourth year GUSOM student and petition signatory Emory Buck.
“Regardless of one’s thoughts on abortion, medical providers need to be trained in order to do their jobs,” Buck wrote. “If medical students prefer not to be trained on the basis of personal religious beliefs, that is acceptable. However, it is not excusable for the school administration to stand in the way of training because of the institution’s beliefs.”
In an effort for a more permanent solution, the students discussed in the meeting the possibility of creating an optional rotation for GUSOM students to learn about abortion at a religiously unaffiliated hospital, according to the petition update.
Since familiarity with basic medical care is required of Georgetown medical students, the Georgetown community should support the creation of both abortion and miscarriage training, according to O’Connell.
“It is important to understand that this medical procedure is used not only for abortions, but also miscarriages, which are as frequent as 25% of all known pregnancies,” O’Connell wrote. “It is my hope that MSFC will continue to be supported by Georgetown students and faculty as they try to provide opportunities to facilitate student learning.”