Pro-Choice Champions: Dr. Deborah Oyer
“Sick and Tired of the State of Reproductive Health”
Dr. Deb Oyer is the Medical Director of her own clinic, Aurora Medical Services, and is this blog’s first featured Pro-Choice Champion. She is not only one of the relatively few medical doctors in this country who provides accurate, comprehensive, and judgment-free abortion, contraception, and family planning services, but she is also a passionate advocate for women’s health care and equality.Dr. Oyer earned her MD at Harvard Medical School, but her awareness of reproductive health and gender equality started with her upbringing. Dr. Oyer was raised in the 60s and 70s (graduating high school in 1973, the iconic year Roe v. Wade was decided) by a politically active mother whose life was changed by the Feminine Mystique , which, she says was “not lost on her.” Dr. Oyer is a feminist who believes contraception and abortion services and education are essential health issues: “I think feminism is a great thing. What it means is that women should have the same opportunities as men—but there’s no question that women cannot be equal in this world if they can’t control their fertility!”
She does not want any woman to have to justify her abortion, and she encourages woman who have had an abortion to be proud and talk about it. In fact, her first assignment for medical students she lectures about abortion care and contraception, is to tell their friends and family that today’s lecture was about abortion. Without lowering their voices or eyes.
She stresses that abortions will not become depoliticized or destigmatized without a grassroots movement encouraging it as a regular conversation topic: “if all 1/3 of the female population who have had abortions just started talking about their choice, abortion would be significantly less of an issue.” This would also rid the community of harmful and offensive anti-abortion organizations, like Limited Service Pregnancy Centers (also known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers).
Dr. Oyer is a current NARAL Board member and Donor—she even donated a first-trimester abortion to be used by a woman in need for this year’s Liberty Ball Auction!—because it comes down to the political discussion for her: “Unless we have places to go for abortions, choice is worthless. As more barriers are put up, we need to not only elect people who are willing to vote for choice, but who are true “champions of choice” and willing to move the dialogue to the left. No other organization [besides NARAL] makes choice a priority in political discourse.”
Chatting with Dr. Oyer was inspiring! I’ll leave you with one of her favorite stories: “One of the best compliments I ever received was from a comment card after a lecture I gave. The person said, ‘she just talked about abortion like it was health care!’ And I laughed because knew I did my job, because abortion IS health care.”