Working in the medical field and being Pro-Life often seem contradictory to the outside observer, which is why the existence of Physicians for Life at McGovern Medical School (UT Houston) is so important. One of my favorite speakers our group hosted this year was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Eugene Toy. We asked Dr. Toy to speak to our group about his journey through his specialty and challenges he has faced. Our group, consisting primarily of first and second year medical students, was incredibly receptive to Dr. Toy’s personal story. Being Pro-Life in the OB/GYN specialty is very difficult both personally and professionally. He encouraged us to become the best and brightest physicians possible so that we could be both leaders in our fields, and Pro-Life advocates from positions of authority.
One of my favorite aspects of being a Pro-Life leader has been learning about many facets of the Pro-Life movement. Jenny Hamann, RN, a noteworthy speaker from our year, was a survivor of locked-in syndrome. Persons suffering with locked-in syndrome have a conscious awareness of the world around them, but without any ability to move a muscle. Those with locked-in syndrome are totally dependent on ventilators, feeding tubes, etc. Following her recovery from locked-in syndrome, Jenny’s experience prompted her to return to school and become a nurse. Our group received Jenny very well because her message was personal and applicable professionally. Jenny spoke of a nurse, Nancy, who treated her with the upmost respect while she was in this supposed-vegetative state. Nancy’s compassionate professionalism was a powerful reminder for future healthcare professionals to treat all patients with respect and dignity.
Bioethics lawyer Wesley J. Smith was my favorite speaker throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Mr. Smith spoke on the ethics of physician-assisted suicide and distinguishing between allowing a patient to pass or hastening a patient’s death. His ethical viewpoint, that will increasingly impact physicians in the United States, was a starting point for great discussion in our group. Can physicians be required to assist patients in suicide? In several countries, and even several states in America, the answer is yes. The issue of physician-assisted suicide will likely come before the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mr. Smith’s talk was a great beginning for learning how to handle these situations.
Our group saw substantial growth this year, which was incredibly encouraging! About 20-30 students attended each session, close to double last year’s attendance. As a group, we volunteered at The Source for Women, a full medical pregnancy resource center in Houston. Hopefully, this will be a recurring opportunity. We also networked with future colleagues from UTMB Galveston during the Texas Right to Life Celebration of Life Gala and during our volunteer opportunities at The Source for Women.
I owe a big thank you to Texas Right to Life. Without Texas Right to Life, our Physicians for Life group would be non-existent and future Pro-Life doctors at McGovern Medical School would have nowhere to turn. As a result of Texas Right to Life’s personal support (through Education Director Veronica Arnold Smither), we are creating a small, yet growing, group of Pro-Life physicians who are passionate about protecting ALL patients’ rights, from the unborn to the elderly to the disabled.
UT Houston McGovern Medical School, Class of 2020