Jennifer Caputo-Seidler

Family Planning Elective

by Jennifer Caputo-Seidler

Friday morning
family planning clinic
Me, a medical student,
eager to equip myself
with knowledge
to hurl at the anti-choice protestors
who slung words of hate
as I arrived for my PAP smear
at the nearby Planned Parenthood

My patient
11 years old
unaware of the changes happening to her body
until she began to show
Then a knowing mother
bringing her to today’s appointment

This girl
hiding her face
in her mother’s shirt
as my resident
softly asked her questions

On the exam table
screams and tears,
pleas for her mother to take her home
Her mother, stoically,
holding her hand and stroking her hair

What’s to be gained
forcing a girl such as this
to become a mother
when she so clearly still relies on her own

“This work is a poem about my experience in the family planning clinic during one of my medical school rotations. Many years later I still remember one of the patients I saw that day, an 11 year old girl who didn’t even understand what it meant to be pregnant. When I hear about abortion bans I think of that girl and ask myself how would it have been just to force her to become a mother when she was still a child herself.”

Jennifer Caputo-Seidler

Jennifer Caputo-Seidler, MD (she/her) is a physician, educator, and writer. She is interested in the intersection between medicine and the humanities.


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