Abortion: “Papaya workshops” against gaps in medical studies

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Adal holds the papaya tightly in his hand. Noa explains what workshop participants should try on their own papayas: She uses a toothpick – the Hegar pen – and pricks the peel of the papaya. With light pressure, she pushes the stem into the fruit and stretches the tissue with circular movements. Then she exchanges the rod for a cannula. Noa takes a so-called vacuum cleaner, which looks like a big syringe with flaps, and sucks in the vacuum. Then she connects the aspirator to the cannula and releases the vacuum. The negative pressure pulls the black papaya seeds into the cannula. “If this was really an abortion, you would do it five times and then you should have it all,” she explains.

Those present watched with enthusiasm. Now they are experimenting with manual and surgical abortion on their own papayas.

Adal and Noa lead the so-called “Workshop Papaya”, which the “Critical Medicine Würzburg” and the “Medical Students for Choice Würzburg” offer together on a voluntary basis for 40 participants per semester. Using a papaya, which is similar in size and shape to a uterus, the two organizations want to offer what is currently often overlooked in undergraduate medical courses: increasing awareness and education about abortion in Germany and a first impression of how abortion abortion works in practice.

A complicated ethical question

In Germany, no one is currently forced to participate in an abortion (§12, SchKG). On the one hand, this means that gynecologists do not have to offer abortion if they have personal, moral or ethical concerns. It also means that gynecology specialist trainees are not required to have participated in an operation during their training.

According to the Professional Association of Gynecologists (BVF), all gynecologists are, however, well trained, because “the legal and medical bases of abortion are fully taught,” the BVF said in response to a BR request.

Should abortions be taught compulsorily?

From the BVF’s point of view, it should not be mandatory for gynecologists with specialized training to participate in an abortion. “The medical profession is, ultimately, a mirror of society, with its different attitudes towards the issue of abortion, which is shaped by ethical, moral, religious and legal convictions,” stated the BVF. As a professional association, the BVF sees itself as having a duty to train all gynecologists to “deal individually with the great ethical challenge of terminating a pregnancy”.

A vision shared by Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl, theologian and member of the German Ethics Council. “Aborting a pregnancy is an act that causes a strong conflict of conscience for some doctors and is not compatible with their medical ethics.” This is also why it is so complex and controversial what is taught when it comes to the subject of abortion. For Schlögl-Flierl, one thing is certain: “It is worth defending the fact that doctors’ freedom of conscience still applies”.

For Adal, however, it is clear: “There is a constant ethical discussion on this topic. And an incredible number of people have an ethical opinion on the subject, but it’s just completely ignored that it’s a medical topic. , and this is a medical procedure that is part of healthcare. “In his opinion, purely ethical discussions will get you nowhere in this matter.

Supply situation in Bavaria – sufficient or not?

According to the preliminary results of the recently published ELSA study Regarding the experiences and living situations of people who are involuntarily pregnant in Germany, the care situation in Germany varies greatly. A fact that, according to its own statement, also concerns the BVF.

In Bavaria, 31,428 women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) seek a registry office. Compared to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – there are 6,236 – this is a very high number. Accessibility in the Free State also leaves a lot to be desired. The study therefore classifies Bavaria – together with Baden-Württemberg, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate – as a federal state with a low level of care.

At BR’s request, the Bavarian Ministry of Health stated that Bavaria, as a federal state, only has to ensure that approval for facilities offering abortions is not generally refused. From the ministry’s point of view, there is currently sufficient supply in Bavaria.

How many papayas do you need?

At the end of the workshop, participants cut the papayas lengthwise to see how the suction worked. Not all papaya seeds were removed.

If you ask Noa whether the “Critical Medicine Würzburg” and the “Medical Students for Choice Würzburg” will continue to offer papaya workshops in the future, her answer is very clear: “I hope not, because we really just want a filling teaching We’re basically working to eliminate ourselves, but until that happens there will probably be a few more papaya workshops.

This may be the case at some point in the future: the federal government is currently reviewing licensing regulations for physicians. Teaching about abortion will likely become mandatory in medical studies.

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