Courage, Compassion, and COVID: Choices Moves into its 50th Year

Courage, Compassion, and COVID: Choices Moves into its 50th Year

Founded in 1971 (two years prior to Roe V Wade), Choices will mark its 50th Anniversary this coming year, 2021. As one of the first abortion centers in the U.S., Choices was a true pioneer in the yet-to-be-defined field of women’s health.

Since then we have expanded to become one of the nation’s largest comprehensive women’s medical centers, offering a full range of women’s reproductive healthcare services including GYN, Birth Control, Pre-Natal Care, Tele-Medicine, Behavioral Health and Nutrition. We plan to mark this anniversary in an appropriate and memorable way and will let you know our plans as they develop.

2020 has been a year with great challenges! The Coronavirus has devastated so many communities – and deadly outbreaks are again on the rise as I write this.

But it’s not the sum of 2020. Along with the real horrors of this year, images of great heroism come flooding in, crowding my consciousness: The medical workers last spring, running short of adequate protective gear at hospitals nearby and battling a new virus which experts knew little about, sleeping so little yet putting their lives on the line to save others’ lives – their courage and dedication are beyond words.

Our Choices Anesthesiology Department Director, Dr. Evans Crevecoeur, who also directs Anesthesiology at Jamaica Hospital, gave a moving and detailed interview about his experiences for our newsletter – see excerpt below.

Our full Choices staff responded with bravery and exceptional commitment to make sure our patients had access to the essential reproductive healthcare they needed throughout this year. We developed new protocols in line with NYC and State guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and patients throughout our facility.

Choices was in the epicenter of the Pandemic, and I am very proud that we were able to remain open for abortion services and prenatal care throughout the difficult initial stages. We then were able to reopen our full OB-GYN programs, and in future weeks and months we will continue to do everything possible to continue our services with the outstanding care we have always offered.

Our patients were also assisted by the dedicated volunteers of our Clinic Escort Program who swung into action when new anti-abortion protesters showed up outside Choices this summer, developing new ways to protect patients from harassment. I am also very proud of our work this year not only in keeping Choices open to provide essential services but in educating and training new generations of doctors and medical professionals in women’s reproductive healthcare. Dr. Alexandria Wells, a third year OB/GYN resident at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, completed a rotation at Choices as a Clinical Intern and shared her thoughts with us for the newsletter.

We also continued our close working relationship with Medical Students for Choice, a nonprofit founded in 1993 to train and educate students in reproductive health. Medical students and undergraduate university students come to intern with us and get practical education in a unique setting – Choices – that focuses on women’s concerns and needs.

Internationally, the massive demonstrations of women across Poland against a harsh abortion ban inspired people everywhere. I authored a letter of support signed by prominent U.S. feminists which was then was published in a major Polish newspaper. The huge, persistent protests forced the Polish government to back down

Our Polish sisters’ massive resistance holds an important lesson for all of us, especially in light of the newly configured U.S. Supreme Court which now has a far right majority eager to support further restrictions to abortion in the U.S., if not reverse the Roe v. Wade decision altogether. We must be ready for continuing, unrelenting struggle, including putting our bodies on the line as necessary, to keep abortion legal and accessible for all women.

There is much to take heart from in 2020 – while meeting the challenges of today and preparing for what may lie ahead. Whatever those challenges may be, you can be certain that Choices will be here for you.

Merle Hoffman, Founder/President
Choices Women’s Medical Center

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