real life

Dr. Gupta is pregnant. She's also an abortion provider.

Doctors aim to take the best care of their patients. For Dr. Pratima Gupta sometimes that means providing care during a pregnancy, and sometimes it means performing an abortion.

It’s a rare combination to have an OBGYN (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) who also performs abortions, but for Dr. Gupta it’s all about her female patients’ health.

Sometimes that means a pregnancy. And sometimes that means an abortion.

In the podcast The Longest Shortest TimeDr. Gupta told host Hillary Frank many people just label her an abortion provider, but she’s so much more than that. Her father was an OBGYN and she often accompanied him to hospital, hanging out with the nurses until the baby was delivered.

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She missed her dad during that time and was convinced she would not become a doctor for that very reason, but medicine kept calling her, particularly the prospect of working with women.

But during her residency she took a course called Family Planning which taught her how to provide abortions.

Dr. Gupta, who has a four-year-old son and is pregnant with her second child, felt drawn to both delivering babies and doing abortions. Instead of being sent down the road to an abortion clinic, she wanted to be there for women seeking abortions, to give them the best possible care, both physically and mentally.

“My personal goal around that was to normalise abortion care and that is how my day is, is that patient number one could be a pap smear, patient number two two could want birth control, patient number three could be an abortion and patient number four could have a menopause issues.”

Dr. Gupta convinced a OBGYN practice to hire her, so women could receive all the care they needed from one location whether it be pregnancy care or abortions. It took some convincing but so far has worked well for the practice.

“It’s just part of my day existing through the normal stream because I look at it as part of normal women’s health care.”

In fact, Dr. Gupta feels so strongly about abortion care she has entered politics as a candidate for San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee.

It's rare to find a doctor who both delivers babies and performs abortions. Image: iStock

Still, there's a stigma Dr. Gupta faces when meeting others in the medical profession.

"When I was first hired I felt like I had a scarlet letter, a big A on my face, the A being for Abortion Provider, not for Adultress."

Her role became even more complicated when she became visibly pregnant. To ease patients' distress, Dr. Gupta shares she in fact has had an abortion herself.

"It was interesting the number of comments I got. I was trying to hide it for a long time wearing bigger scrubs and wearing my white coat really loose and buttoning it over my belly.

"But I got to a point where I just couldn't hide it anymore despite my best efforts and one time I walked into a patient and her partner looked at up at me and said, 'Dang Dr. Gupta,' was just something patients often asked and actually even my colleagues and nurses would say, 'Don't you find it hard to do abortions right now while you're pregnant'?"

Dr. Gupta says "no".

"I looked at is as this was not their time to become a parent and to continue on with their pregnancy but it was the right time for me."

Listen to the full episode of The Longest Shortest Time through iTunes.

How would you feel if your abortion doctor was pregnant?