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 is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever listened to! I realize that there are many perspectives in the world, but still had my mind stretched by a parenting podcast that featured someone who helps people to not be parents, and the babies who would be parented to not exist. I am appreciative of the photos, especially of this doctor’s precious little boy; so glad that he was wanted, and therefore, allowed to live.

    1. By helping people not be parents, we allow people to be the best parents they can be – when they are ready and want to be parents.

      1. Beth- I couldn’t agree with you more. Our goal is to make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy and to support people if and when they are ready to be parents.
        Pratima Gupta

  2. Many, many thanks to Pratima for what she does every day. Abortion access is an essential part of family planning and should be a part of every obgyn practice. Only wish that the anti-choice movement didn’t make it so difficult for individual providers — you shouldn’t have to choose between performing desperately needed services and your own safety. Stay safe, best of luck, and deepest gratitude from the pro-choice (pro-women/pro-family) community.

    1. EMSL- thank you for your kind words and your support. It is wonderful to know that we, as abortion providers, have a network of folks cheering for us.
      Pratima Gupta

  3. This episode made me smile. Pratima is such an intelligent woman “helping ladies” in all stages of their reproductive health and there should be more doctors out there like her! She seems so kind and understanding of her patients and genuinely wants them to have access to the health care that’s right for them. I wish more doctors were willing to have these open discussions –I greatly appreciate her effort to make abortions a part of the normal conversation of women’s reproductive health. If you were in Michigan, Pratima, you’d be my go to doctor for sure! I’ve been looking for one with your spirit. Thanks for everything you do! I wish you great success in your political endeavors too! And thanks Longest Shortest Time for the amazing stories you share!

    1. Sydney- thank you for your kind words. I would be happy to care for you if you ever move to the Bay Area.
      Pratima Gupta

  4. Dear Dr. Gupta and Hillary!
    Let me just say I love this podcast! Thank you Hillary (+ team) for creating meaningful conversations on such a wide range of awesome parenting/related topics – I have enjoyed every episode I’ve listened to so far. This episode particularly hit home for me!

    Dr. Gupta – I am so happy to hear there are women like you doing what you do. It’s so hard to put into words :) Similar to you, I’m an MD (anesthesiology – also providing anesthesia for abortions/whole range of operative-related women’s health services), a mom, have gone through an abortion BUT in Germany. I feel very lucky with regards to our medical/maternity policies here. I grew up in Boston and therefore follow US politics lots. Please continue to do what you’re doing, it is SO important, especially now. Much perseverance and success in your political, medical and mom-careers! Best regards from the Baltic Sea.

  5. Thank you all so much for sharing this amazing story
    And Go team Dr. Gupta!! As a fellow MD, I feel so strongly that we need more people with medical experience in politics. For many reasons, so few doctors get involved in this way. Thank you so so much for putting in the time and energy for this, all the the midst of a busy life raising kids and taking care of patients. Has really inspired me to get off my butt and get more involved.
    All the best and thank you for what you do, Amanda

    1. Amanda- thank YOU for all you do as well. T he patient care that you do is important as well and allows you to advocate on an individual level.
      Pratima Gupta

  6. I really enjoyed the original episode when it first aired but I feel like too many of your episode now have a political agenda. I do have to agree with Rachel above as someone who had been trying to conceive for 16 months before being able to get pregnant, it’s odd to me that this podcast has turned into what it has. I once felt the stories were inspiring, helpful, and it was once of my favorite podcasts. I feel they are losing their helpfulness to new moms and I’ve even unsubscribed because most of them don’t really provide a helpful perspective to new moms.

    1. Kelli- thank you for taking the time to listen and enjoy your time with your little one.
      Pratima Gupta

    2. @Kelli. The podcast has changed. Don’t you hear how they are asking for stories all along the life span. It isn’t all about new moms. The personal is political. Nothing is innocent and pure. This podcast may not be what you are looking for right now but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still inspiring and thoughtful.

  7. I’m so glad you gave us an update on Dr. Gupta, and I was thrilled to hear she ran for office! I have been considering a run for office since the election, but I am at a complete loss on where to start. I have a 2 year old and it seems there is never time for anything but survival. I would be very interested to hear more about how she managed a young child and running for office. Thank you for what you do!

    1. Stephanie- thank you for listening and for taking the first step to run for office (realizing you want to)!
      Pratima Gupta

  8. This was the most inspiring podcast. I never heard the original so I’m glad the update had that. It made me want to go back in time so that I could study to become an OBGYN that both delivers babies and is an abortion provider. Why are there so few? I was also so inspired that I signed up the same day (yesterday) for the She Should Run online courses. As a mother of a young child who always feels like there is never enough time, this helped showed me that I need to make time to be more civically involved. Listening to this was the push I needed. If I don’t do more, if we don’t do more, then who will? Thank you for this.

  9. Thank you so much for your bravery Dr. Gupta, and thank you LST for sharing such an inspiring update. Your original interview with Dr. Gupta was my very favorite episode ever. I’m so glad you decided to run for office. Clearly we still have a lot of work to do!

  10. Hi,
    What Pratima said about her patients now seeking abortions due to the uncertainty of coverage really resonated with me. My first son was born right before Obamacare was passed. I was self-employed at the time and therefore ineligible for any plan that would cover the labor and delivery, as well as lab work for prenatal care. It was an absolute nightmare. I spent months calling my insurance company trying to find a solution. When I was about seven months pregnant, my husband and I decided to switch to a midwifery practice that specialized in home births. We could cover the cost out of pocket and figured it would be the best option. That was until I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 37 weeks. My care was transferred back to my OB and I delivered in hospital. A few weeks after delivery, I received my bill…..$12,000.
    My husband and I were very fortunate; he received an inheritance when he turned 30. We worked out a payment plan until he received the funds and we were then able to pay it off. This situation was so incredibly stressful. I can totally understand why some women would opt for an abortion when the very start of their child’s life is so unstable. I’m saddened that so many women will be faced with similar situations.
    I loved this episode and regardless of where we all stand on abortion, we would all be so lucky to have the kind of thoughtful, empathic care she offers. SF is lucky to have her!

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