An interview with Mugdha Mokashi, OB/GYN Resident and Provide Board Member
Tell us a little bit about your current job.
I’m a first year OB/GYN Resident at Northwestern. Residents provide the full spectrum of care—delivering babies, doing c-sections, providing routine gynecological and family planning services, including contraception counseling, sterilization procedures, and first trimester surgical and medical abortions. I get to work at a variety of sites in Chicago, including a county hospital. It’s part of the reason I came to this program. I wanted to be part of a larger academic institution balanced with the ability to serve diverse sites and patients.
Tell us a little bit more about your background and what drew you to this work.
Alabama is my home. Growing up there as a Hindu immigrant, I saw and experienced the need for deeply genuine, community-oriented care.
At the University of Alabama in Birmingham, I got involved with URGE’s (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity) workshops on abortion advocacy and queer-inclusive sex education. I volunteered with a rape crisis center and saw nurses do something incredible—use health care and knowledge to provide some sense of autonomy during a devastating experience. It birthed my interest in medicine and advocacy.
As I struggled to find something academically as interesting as my volunteer work, a college mentor suggested I look into reproductive justice. I did and quickly found my passion—a way to live and breathe activism in health autonomy through my work.
What are your aspirations?
I want to be an abortion provider in Alabama.
I am strongly tied to purpose and providing full spectrum, queer-inclusive reproductive healthcare that meets individual needs, desires and aspirations. I want to be the doctor I wish I had.
What are you seeing on the ground in Illinois as it relates to the recent Dobbs decision and state legislative restrictions?
I’m seeing a lot of folks who aren’t from the Chicago area coming here for services. It breaks my heart because there are so many logistical issues trying to address these increased needs, and it is so hard for patients to have to seek care away from their homes. But more so, I’m scared about the folks I’m NOT seeing here—the thousands more who are pregnant and in unsafe conditions. These folks may never be able to access the care they need or may end up presenting later for care which narrows options and increases risk.
What are your thoughts about the interconnectedness of reproductive justice and abortion care?
The forces of reproductive oppression and racism in our medical system disproportionately impact people of color. Folks have many challenges accessing care even in places where bans aren’t in effect and many never make it to see me because of these barriers. Pregnancy has inherent medical risks and its unconscionable to subject people to these risks who don’t want to be. Abortion bans will impact infant mortality and other medical outcomes and hurt those most marginalized.
Why did you get involved with Provide?
Provide does work that is close to my heart. They go where the need is greatest. It’s really dismal to think about how abortion bans are impacting access—especially in the South. I see the connection between their work training social and health care providers and my work caring for patients.
Our movement is resilient. Regardless how terrible this environment feels, me and my colleagues are not giving up.
What can people do to support Provide’s work?
Everyone has a role to play.
First, say the word abortion out loud and often. I put abortion funds on my wedding registry! Abortions are so common and so many people need them and yet we don’t talk about them. People see the issue with different eyes when someone they love cares and talks about it. It breaks down stigma.