How the Papaya Workshop came into being

Some of you have already heard a lot about our Papaya-Workshop, where we try to help our fellow-students learn what the Charité doesn’t teach us. Or some of you may have already taken part in one of them.
But how did the Papaya Workshop come into being?
You can find the answer and many other interesting aspects about our work in this article by Nancy Isenson for Deutsche Welle.

In Berlin, Alicia Baier says, abortion doesn’t come up until nearly the end of one’s studies, in the ninth of 12 semesters, and then only in a seminar on prenatal diagnostics.

„Terminating a pregnancy is spoken of within 10 minutes, if you’re lucky,“ she says. „Fellow students have said it didn’t come up at all, because time ran out.“ But the future doctors are expected to be able to discuss the legal and ethical aspects of abortion as well as be aware of the „psychological burden in the societal context.“ Although every woman does not feel burdened, she adds.

In late 2015 Baier began considering starting a group to tackle the deficiency she saw in medical schools. „When I brought it up with fellow students, I often heard: ‚I don’t really know that much about the topic to be able to discuss it, but I don’t have the impression it’s a problem in Germany. Everything is surely well organized.'“

Those attitudes, which she considered dangerous, helped steel her resolve. „Those who become gynecologists will decide for themselves whether they perform terminations,“ she says, „and if they don’t come into contact with it in their studies, don’t have the feeling it is an issue, then they will possibly be more likely to say later: ‚I won’t offer abortions.'“

Papaya workshops
Baier and the other students who now make up Medical Students for Choice at the Charité want medical schools to teach prospective doctors to carry out abortions and for the taboo that surrounds choosing to end a pregnancy to be eliminated.
Papayas are one of their tools.

In hands-on workshops organized by MSfC, gynecologists help med students do abortions on the ersatz uteruses. They practice one of the two most common forms of terminating a pregnancy, vacuum aspiration, using suction to remove the fruits‘ seeds.

„The workshop makes clear that it isn’t an extreme operation, but rather a relatively small and uncomplicated 10-minute intervention,“ Baier says. But there’s another, perhaps more important point to the exercise, she says: „It offers a platform for the students to talk with gynecologists who do abortions themselves.“

Unfortunately though, it is mainly a platform for women at the moment. Few men have been involved with MSfC so far, Baier says. But that is something she would also like to see change. „Men are very welcome.“

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