The Scarlet A


The Scarlet A

SPOILER ALERT: A version of this episode first ran in February 2016. The last segment of this show contains an update about Pratima. If you’d like that to remain a surprise, listen to the episode before scrolling down in this post!

Pratima’s dad was an obstetrician. When they spent father-daughter time together, he was always getting called away to deliver a baby. Pratima swore to herself she’d never be a doctor. And *definitely* not an OB-GYN.

But that’s exactly what she became.


Pratima loved the variety in women’s health. One day she might be helping a woman with birth control; a few years later, she might be removing that same woman’s ovarian cyst; next, maybe she’d assist that woman through a pregnancy. And somewhere along the way, there might be an abortion.

Turns out, 60% of women who have abortions are already moms. But only 14% of OB-GYNs in the United States offer this service.

Pratima is one of the few doctors who both delivers babies and terminates pregnancies—a job combination that gets stigmatized even in the medical community.


Four years ago, Pratima gave birth to a baby of her own. But it wasn’t her first pregnancy; the first one ended in abortion.


Tune in to this episode to hear what it’s like to be an OB-GYN who performs abortions, and a mom who has had one herself.

Pratima’s News
Pratima’s son Nehru is four now, and looking very grown up!

In the year since we last spoke with Pratima, she’s had a couple big changes in her life. First, she’s pregnant with her second child. Also, this:

Pratima ran for political office … and won! She’s now Vice Chair of San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee. Our update in this episode will catch you up on what that means, and how voters reacted to this mom of a preschooler on the campaign trail.

Resources for Pregnancy Termination
Of course, we all know that Planned Parenthood offers abortion services. Pratima says that if you want to find an OB-GYN who performs abortions, the best thing to do is ask your primary care physician or insurance provider for a recommendation. Because of the risk involved in this line of work, OB-GYNs don’t often publicly list abortions as a service that they provide.

If you’re looking for more information about abortions, Pratima recommends Guttmacher for research and Rewire for reproductive health policy and journalism that is accessible to a general audience.

Resources for Women Who Want to Run for Office
Feeling inspired by Pratima’s story? You’re not alone. Pratima tells us that since the 2016 election she’s received lots of requests from women seeking advice on how to launch political campaigns. Here are some organizations that support female politicians:

* Emerge America is a training program for Democratic women. This is the program that helped Pratima.

* The National Federation of Republican Women offers a campaign management school.

* Ready to Run is the same idea but nonpartisan.

* The She Should Run Incubator is another nonpartisan group. It offers online courses, and even has a Parents’ Course with activities you can do with your daughter.

* And make sure to check what’s going on in your home state; there are tons of great local organizations that support women in politics, too!

Anything new YOU’RE doing lately?
Maybe due to the current political climate? Or some other big shift you didn’t see coming? Tell, tell!

Pratima family photos: Molly DeCoudreaux
Supreme Court photo: Mike Morgan

Our sponsors for this episode are Total Wireless, Squarespace (code: LONGSHORT), Sun Basket and Kopari

31 thoughts on “Episode #115: The Scarlet A (UPDATE)

  1. This was a fantastic episode. I’m grateful to Dr. Gupta for sharing her powerful story and for running for office to try to affect real change in our country.

    New thing I’m doing lately – trying not to curse. I realize in this political climate, words are becoming more and more toxic and somehow “not important” as a reflection of a person’s soul or creed. It’s so weird.
    I love words and language. And I curse like a sailor. I realize my parrot toddler is hearing what I say and will repeat it. Without strong role models speaking eloquently in positions of authority in this country, and with the internet being a place people can use vile words to sling against each other, I suddenly feel the strong need to stop cussing and start showing my son how to use his voice and language for good.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful podcast on a very complex topic! I love people, questions, and answers that make me THINK. :)

    What new thing am I doing since the election? I am becoming an even fiercer advocate for my gender non-conforming son. I told our story on the Moth stage, I’ve written my congressmen, I’ve gone to marches and rallies, I’ve signed up for Lobby Day on Capitol Hill next week (yikes!). All of this I am doing not just for my son but for kids like him, who live in places not quite as accepting as our community. My new motto: I am no longer accepting things I cannot change; I’m changing the things I cannot accept.

  3. It seems so clear that in a wealthy and advanced society, women’s health involves family planning which involves providing abortions. Thank you to Hillary for bringing Pratima’s story and work to our attention. And thank you, Pratima, for helping the ladies of the Bay Area and best of luck in your new political career!

  4. Dr. Gupta,
    Thanks so much for all your work in “helping ladies” :) I was thrilled to hear an update, and what an update it was. I am an aspiring doctor strongly leaning towards OB/GYN and hope to be a mom one day. I never, ever considered that running for office would fit into that lifestyle until I heard about you. Please don’t forget that you have a huge community of people who need you and are rooting for you in all the roles you play. Nehru has a great role model (and I bet another great one in his dad). Sending warm self-care wishes, too, and hoping you remember to treat yourself like how you would treat a friend/constituent/patient.

  5. Dr. Gupta is amazing. As a person who grew up pro life and has now switched my stance to pro-choice, it is comforting to know what Dr. Gupta goes through in her own life and with her patients.
    In response to the request at the end of the show, One thing that I am considering now as a parent because of the political climate is sending my son to a private school or whether or not to sell our house to move to a better school district for my now 9 month old son. My husband was a part of the Teach for America program and placed in a school district that has a 90% poverty rate. Ever since my husband has worked in the school where he was placed, and we have been committed to the public school system. We have moved to the school district that he works in to be submerged in the culture and so that the students know we are there for them all the time. Not just during school hours. Now with the political climate, we are concerned about the fate of the public school system with the arrival of more charter schools and public subsides for education.

  6. I never thought abortion was an option for me until I heard this podcast. It gives the words to the gut feelings I’ve had all along- the feelings that have been shamed and quashed by familial and societal pressures. I feel empowered. Thank you. You’ve made me a better parent.

  7. Thank you for (again!) interviewing someone as wonderful as Dr. Gupta. I loved this episode’s combination of politics, health, and ladies helping ladies.

    And, a special thank you to Dr. Gupta for running for an elected position. It’s inspiring to hear and forces me to ask myself, “Why not me too?”

  8. this was an amazing and also difficult story for me. Like Dr Gupta, I had a very much wanted pregnancy and found out at 5 months that my daughter had severe congenital defects. There is no feeling so bad as that, agonizing over what I could have possibly done wrong- and going through test after test to explain the unexplainable. My husband and I made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy. Let me add I found all this outon Election Day, it was supposed to just be that happy 20 wk ultrasound where we found out everything looked good. In the days and weeks that followed, I was heart broken but also thankful for the option. Often times, when people talk about abortion, it’s about making the choice early on but some women turn reluctantly to that option in order to minimize suffering of the baby and hardship on their families. Thank you Dr Gupta for the work you do and the women you help.

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