From the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
I encountered a weird, sad and somewhat frightening thing when covering the obstetricians’ and gynecologists’ big annual meeting this year — something I haven’t seen in my 20 years of medical news reporting, including many assignments to this very meeting.
It took me awhile to recognize it. The first day, as I was trying to find the room number for a talk I wanted to cover, I noticed that there was a “mistake” in the program book. The room number for that particular session was missing. The next day, two more sessions that I wanted to cover had the same “problem” — no room number.
So I asked for help from staff in the press office, and they seemed surprised to see these “errors” in the program too. But they knew who to call, and got me the room numbers, explaining that the omissions from the program were for “security” reasons.
Then it hit me that the link between each of the “missing” sessions that I’d hoped to attend was that they all were about contraception. Not even abortion, mind you, just contraception.
Throughout the meeting, protesters took up posts outside the convention center, haranguing attendees with shouts through bullhorns and enlarged anti-abortion signs and photos of fetuses, even one sign that accused these baby-loving physicians of hating children.
I’ve seen that before, but never felt threatened. Perhaps I shouldn’t have felt so safe, considering that eight abortion providers have been murdered since 1993. Clearly, the meeting organizers were taking no chances. The fact that they felt they needed to protect contraception sessions is a sad sign of our violent times, and it occurred to me that the nervousness it generated in me must be something that many Ob.Gyns. live with every day.