Hind Berji: Choices Medical Center (Feminist Camp NYC)

In continuation with the week’s prominent theme of fluidity in power dynamics, we visited the egalitarian, resourceful, women-owned and operated facility of Choices Medical Center in Jamaica, Queens. One of the main things that stood out to me from our meeting with the facility’s founder, Merle Hoffman, is the relationship between counselor, doctor, social worker and patient. The equal distribution of power within the organizational structure of a medical facility—especially one that cares for women who may find themselves in very vulnerable positions—should be innate. Choices staff members are very attentive to even the smallest aspects of patients’ needs and circumstances, and, although they are known primarily as abortion providers (the facility opened in 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion), they provide comprehensive healthcare for women. Patients can apply for medical insurance, receive pre-natal care, and attend therapy and counseling sessions for depression, abuse, and/or addiction.

Reproductive justice as something that is essential, and the issue of abortion is only one facet of the attention given to women’s care. We discussed the highly politicized topic of abortion and, given the uncertainty of the current political climate, the facility’s anticipation of more rules, regulations, and hoops to jump through to secure abortion rights. As Hoffman said, “the struggle for abortion is a power struggle…and women must take power for themselves because power is responsibility and responsibility is power.”

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