America's First Abortion Clinic/Birth Center Opens in Buffalo

Last month, in Buffalo, New York, the country's first abortion clinic/natural birth center opened under the leadership of Dr. Katharine Morrison, who has been providing abortion care services in the city for more than 25 years.

In this Q&A in Cosmo (weirdly, one of the few outlets I found covering this story), Dr. Morrison talks about the diminishing availability of abortion services in her area

When I started in Buffalo in 1988, you could have an abortion at any number of doctors' offices or clinics, and if you had any medical issue or just wanted general anesthesia, you could have [an abortion] in any number of hospitals. Fast-forward to today and you cannot have an abortion in any hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. We're hanging on by our fingernails.

In 2007, Dr. Morrison began attending home births with local midwife Eileen Stewart. (Stewart was on the brink of closing her practice because she could not find a collaborating OB to work with her, as is required under New York state law.) Inspired by the freedom of choice women enjoyed under traditional midwifery care, Dr. Morrison began the red-tape-laden task of transforming her abortion clinic into a more comprehensive facility.

Here's a sentence you will probably never hear me say again (at least not through tears of laughter): the (brief) Cosmo article is definitely worth a read. Morrison delves into the rhetorically similar vitriol leveled against both abortion providers/women who have abortions and natural birth providers/women who pursue natural birth, as well as the importance of having ONE center/provider who will carry a woman through any choice she makes regarding her reproductive life, whenever she makes it.

A center like this makes so much sense (and a return to pre-Industrial midwifery, when everyone knew that whether you and your husband were expecting your forth child, or you didn't want your fifth, you call Ol' Bess, the local midwife). The dichotomy currently set up between birth and abortion is so unnecessarily artificial, reinforcing this idea that there are those moral failures who have to go down to the abortion clinic and those fertile, happy models of femininity. As Morrison puts it...

I have patients who have had an abortion with me, had a baby, and had an abortion, or had a baby, had an abortion, or had a couple of abortions and had a baby, then had a couple of abortions. There are so many doctors out there in Buffalo who think their patients don't get abortions. I can't violate patient confidentiality, but I think, Well, I do them all day long on your patients. These doctors think they have the "good patients" who get pregnant and have the baby and I've got all the "lousy patients" who get pregnant and have abortions. But it's the same patient.

A center like this could inspire a paradigm shift in women's care. Best of luck to Dr. Morrison and Buffalo Women Services.