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Ep. 23 Dr. Bhavik Kumar - Abortion, A Houston Physician's Perspective



Dr. Bhavik Kumar 0:00

***radio effect on voice*** So they end up having to choose one or the other. Well, I've got to believe my religion, or if somebody says this based on, you know, it being a religious thing, then I'm going to believe it. And that's not to say that all religion is bad, it's just that oftentimes they haven't had the tools or developed the tools to understand that you can hold both of those at the same time and come to your own understanding of what it means. And it's more complex and nuanced, we haven't come to that place yet. A lot of people haven't come to that place yet.


Music 0:31

***Intro Music***


Rob Icsezen 0:33

What's up Houston! Welcome to H-Town Progressive, Houston's impenetrable fortress of progressive thought! I'm your host, Rob Icsezen! Today we're going to build on what we started last week when we talked about the problem of access to abortion. ***Intro music fades out*** And as we discussed, then, the right to an abortion is well established constitutional law. And it has been for some time now. But, as we covered in our show last week, the radical opposition has been working tirelessly to diminish that right basically since the day it was established. And while the battle to shape and reshape the law around abortion rages on in state legislatures and federal courts across the land, the day to day work of actually providing health care in this climate continues. Dedicated health care professionals do their jobs every day despite ruthless efforts to thwart them. They're forced to do medically unnecessary things in their medical practice. They're constantly disparaged in the media with outlandish misinformation. Protesters harass them literally every day as they go to work. And sometimes, as we've unfortunately seen, they're personally threatened and even harmed...


And yet, they persist.


And our guest today is one of those who persists, every day doing this incredibly important job, in our incredibly difficult political climate. I could go on here, but instead I'm going to read you a quote from "warrior poet" Audre Lord (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/audre-lorde) that our guest has on the wall of his office to remind him of his calling, and help him carry on: "when I choose to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less than less important, whether I am afraid."


Dr. Bhavik Kumar is a family physician currently providing primary health care, including abortion care, at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-gulf-coast), located in Houston and in Louisiana. He previously worked with Whole Woman's Health in Texas (https://wholewomanshealth.com/), traveling across the state for years to help maintain access to abortion care. He completed medical school at Texas Tech, his residency training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York (https://www.montefiore.org/) and a fellowship in family planning at Albert Einstein College of Medicine also in the Bronx, New York (http://www.einstein.yu.edu/), and he also earned his Masters of Public Health from Columbia University in New York (https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/).


It's my honor to welcome to the show today, Dr. Bhavik Kumar!


Dr. Kumar, welcome to H-Town Progressive.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 3:05

Thank thanks for having me.


Rob Icsezen 3:06

Thank you for coming on the show. It's, it's really wonderful to have you. This is our second show to cover abortion, but we're taking a different tactic, or a different sort of perspective on it. You as a physician, and your perspective, scientific, medical perspective on abortion, and that kind of idea writ large. And so just to get right into it. I'd like to know how you got to where you are, and what that story is and how it informs what we're going to talk about today.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 3:35

Sure. So, I mostly grew up in Texas. I moved here with my family in 1995. So I was in sixth grade at the time, and we were an immigrant family living in a small East Texas town, Corsicana, which is a very big shock, just because wasn't something I was used to.


Rob Icsezen 3:56

Yeah,


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 3:56

And we were undocumented at the time, we stayed undocumented for about 11 years. And that's also where we experienced post 9-11 racism, you know. I'm also gay. And so there's a lot of lived experiences that I had, of sort of being marginalized. And then, at some point, I found myself in medical school, and got involved with an organization called "medical students for choice." And that's really where I learned about how safe abortion is, how common it is, yet, there were very few providers that were providing that type of care, especially in places like Texas. And so something just sort of fit in where it clicked in my head, that there's folks that are being affected by this, it's very safe, it's very common, and it's mostly affecting people that have marginalized experiences. And that's something that I could identify with. And so I decided to get trained, I said, somebody's got to do something, and if not me, then who, and so I said, I've got to come back to Texas, and, and provide this type of health care. And so I think living in the state, knowing the state, knowing, you know, different parts of the state, it just made sense to me that this is where something needs to happen. I couldn't find a program at the time, a family medicine program, which is what I chose to go into, that provided training in abortion. So I had to leave the state, ended up in New York, and said, Okay, if I'm going to leave New York, I'm not going to stay in my liberal bubble, I'm going to come back to Texas and sort of make change and and be the voice. At the time, there was also very few if any physicians that were speaking out about the work that they did in places like Texas, because of concerns about safety. Doctors to provide abortion care have been murdered in our country and elsewhere. And so it's a real concern. However, I really believe that if folks aren't speaking out about it and being open, we're not going to be able to make change. And so my commitment to providing abortions was rooted in being a Texan growing up in the state, knowing what it's like to live in a state that's more conservative and have lived experiences that are different from what policies sort of come out. Trying to make it look like the state, you know, is helping when it's really not. And so I came back to Texas and decided to do the work here and to be outspoken about it and that's really where the roots of why I do this work comes from.


Rob Icsezen 6:06

Yeah, well, thank you. Thank you for for that. And one of the things about abortion is that there's a lot of misinformation. I mean, there are... people are very passionate on all sides of the abortion debate. And when I say that word "debate" there, there are many aspects that have been debated, and that are debated. But one of the things about a discussion, for any informed discussion to occur, you need real data, you need to start from the facts, and we don't have that. So what are some of those things out there that would be really helpful for people to hear so that they can have these discussions in an informed way?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 6:47

Yeah, I think when we hear about what folks refer to as "the debate," there seems to be tension. And there is tension, some folks are supportive and other folks or not. But I think when we really look at the facts, and the reality of what abortion and how abortion happens, it's a lot more simple, at least to me. And it's easy for me to understand why folks would be supportive of it. I think when we talk to folks that are against abortion, there's not a lot of factual information that they're providing to you know, it's more ideological. So some of the facts that I think are important are first: abortion is really common. So in our country about one in four people will have an abortion in their lifetime. So it's very, very common...


Rob Icsezen 7:29

And that fact, I mean, that's worth pausing there. One in four people who are able to be pregnant, have an abortion. That means you, whoever you are listening at this time, know somebody definitely who's had an abortion.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 7:40

Yeah, one of my favorite advocates, Renee Bracey Sherman (https://www.reneebraceysherman.com/) likes to say, "Everybody loves somebody who's had an abortion. You may just not know it." So it's extremely common. A lot of people have an abortion. It's one of the most common medical procedures in our country.


Rob Icsezen 7:53

And that's important to know, I mean, it's easy to judge that which you don't know. It's, and so when, I feel like humanizing, in any context, abortion is certainly one of them, but when you start to humanize, when you start to put a, not just a face and a name, but a soul, an identity, to a social issue, people become a lot less more vindictive and aggressive. And you can gain some ground that way, I think.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 8:19

Yeah, absolutely. I think when we're talking about policies, it's one thing, but I think for somebody like me, who sees people who need abortion care every day, and there's a human being with a face, a soul, emotions, feelings, you know, a partner perhaps, children perhaps, it's a different experience. And I see rooted in that, that I'm helping actual people who come to me for care, and I'm not just making policies in a bubble, that, I'm not seeing their faces, you know, for the folks who get affected by these policies. So for me, I'm rooted in that knowing that I'm helping actual people that are affected by this.


One of the other things, I think that's important is that abortion is really safe. So it's not just really common, it's very, very safe. The major complication rates for an abortion are less than 0.5%. So it's 99.5% safe, less than half a percent of folks have any major complication.


Rob Icsezen 9:11

And that that's important because the laws... one of the many ways that that the anti abortion people tried to attack it and end it and and make it... what they do is the they regulate in the name of "safety." They use that word, that sort of general idea that "we're just trying to make it safe..." ...HB2 that came out years ago, and then ultimately was struck down ***(for more information see https://www.texastribune.org/2013/07/13/texas-abortion-regulations-debate-nears-climax/)***. But, but it's not unsafe.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 9:40

Exactly. And abortion doctors, abortion clinics, are already under the same regulations that everyone else is under. So any clinic that you go to, any physician, all the things that we typically have to do, we do the same thing. But there's a set of regulations, a huge set of regulations, that states like Texas try to push on to doctors that provide abortion specifically, or the procedure itself. And it's simply unnecessary, it's already very, very safe. And most of those complications that we do see, even that half percent, are typically complications that happen later in abortion. So another fact to add on to that is that about 90% of abortions happen in the first trimester. So where we see most of those complications, it's a very few abortions, where that actually is, you know, relevant.


Rob Icsezen 10:20

And those are the examples that people bring up, and that, they take one really bad example of like a late term abortion with really bad complications, and then they use that to broaden the argument to all abortion as if that's what all of them look like when in fact, the overwhelming majority, almost all of them are pretty standard procedures that are safe. And, you know, regular.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 10:46

Exactly, yep. And that's, that's the reality in which I provide care, is that they're very, very safe. They typically happen early on in pregnancy. And a lot of people need that type of care. And that's, that's really the foundation of a lot of the truth behind abortion. I think the opposition loves, like you said, to talk about late term abortions or later abortions, which are perfectly fine to have, they're also extremely safe. But I think what they're trying to do is evoke a different concept of what abortion is for folks that may not have all the facts. And for them to think that that's what most abortions are, and that's what we're doing. And I think that's why it's really important for someone like me, who provides this type of care to speak out about, "this is who I am providing the care," "this is what we actually do," "and this is what abortion actually is." I mean, it's very different from the way they, that the folks that are against abortion try to paint it as.


Rob Icsezen 11:34

Well, let me ask you this. And, and for speaking out, I mean, you're incredibly brave, and it's wonderful that you do this, and I hope you continue to do it. And I hope there are more people like you who do it, and then you inspire others to become like you.


The term "abortion doctor." I've kind of been thinking about that, in preparation of this, it seems to me that that's kind of, that shouldn't even be a term. I mean, abortion is one procedure that a doctor who provides general health care can, can do. And the fact that you do one procedure, I don't, I mean we don't call people like, I don't know, foot [laughing], whatever, whatever, you know, name a procedure. Yeah, and we don't name doctors by the single procedure. I mean, you are a specialist, in particular health care of people who have a certain biology who are capable of becoming pregnant. That's your specialty, and one of the procedures that you can offer is an abortion. So is that...


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 12:30

That's true. Yeah. So I am a family medicine doctor, so I provide primary care, I can treat your diabetes, I can treat your HIV, I can, you know, inject your knee with steroids, I can provide an abortion, insert your IUD. There's a number of things that we can do. And for me, I agree, that's typically how health care should be provided. You need something, you go to your doctor, and your doctor can provide you for that care, or refer you to where you can get that care. And so where I trained in New York, and what I hear from how healthcare is provided on the coasts, it's very much like that. You go to your doctor, if you need an abortion or anything else, you can typically get that from a primary care provider. In Texas, and also other states where it's a lot more restricted, what they've done by design is isolate abortion into places that are separate, as physically separate in a separate building. So when you're going through medical school or residency training, you're typically not going to see somebody who provides abortions, it's just been isolated into different clinics like Planned Parenthoods or others. And then the physicians that provide it are under set separate set of regulations that are specific to them because they provide abortions. And so it really makes folks sort of, who provide abortions in places like Texas, sort of take that on and take it on in a different way where you become more onerous of that. And it's done by design, so that folks that even want to say, you know, I'm going to provide care in a hospital four days a week, and one day a week, I'll go to Planned Parenthood, it's very difficult to be able to do that. And it's done again, by design, and they've done a good job at it. But there's no reason for it, there's no medical reason for it. There's no reason that I know of, that makes sense. And it also affects patient accessing care, because then they have to access that one type of care in a different way than they do with, compared to everything else. And it adds to the stigma of what that is, it makes something is there something wrong with this? Is this is bad? Is there a reason why I can't just go to the hospital and get this care? And again, it just sort of adds to the overall stigma of it.


Rob Icsezen 14:16

Policy matters! I mean, it really, really matters and misinformation matters. And those two things kind of snowball together to create what you have here now in Texas. Let's let's talk a little bit about state politics. I mean, because abortion is regulated at the state level.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 14:31

Absolutely.


Rob Icsezen 14:32

So what's going on in Austin always affects this. You know, HB2 happened a few sessions ago, legislative sessions ago, although it was struck down it did have its effect. What is the state of abortion law in Texas right now in terms of the the pressures that affect the access to care that you're seeing?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 14:54

Yeah, so HB2 specifically, even though was struck down, it shut down half of the clinics in Texas. So sometimes folks think, "Okay, well, they shut down, it's, the law was struck down. Now, let's reopen those clinics." Reopening clinics is very, very difficult. It's been about two years since that law was struck down, and maybe one or two clinics have opened since. And logistically thinking about what it means to renew your lease, rehire the staff, after they've already moved on, the money it takes to reopen that clinic, supplies, the physician that needs to work there, it's just impossible. On top of that, there's also a layering of laws that have come out over the last decade or so, which make it very difficult for folks to access care. Some of those laws include a mandatory 24 hour waiting period. Even though most folks have already thought and made the decision to have an abortion, when they come into the clinic, they then have to go home and wait at least 24 hours. Required ultrasound, that means that the physician also has to not only perform the ultrasound, but show the patient the image of the ultrasound, describe the image, play the cardiac motion, even if the patient tells me that "I don't want to see it or hear anything," I have to force them to do that. And it, you know, chips away at the trust that's between a physician and patient. As well, as you know, outlawing any use of insurance, not just Medicaid, but also private insurance. You can buy an additional abortion supplement, but most folks don't plan on having an abortion, so it's not typically something anyone does.


Rob Icsezen 16:14

Yeah.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 16:14

So that adds to the financial burden of it. There's laws against, that make it difficult for young women to have an abortion. And it ends up creating this sort of layering effect. And so when somebody finds out that they're pregnant, decides that they don't want to be, they then have to go through this gauntlet of layers of laws that they have to navigate, finding the clinic where it's accessible, getting to the clinic, waiting 24 hours, making, you know, coming up with the funds to pay for their abortion, and then going through that actual process. For folks that already have, you know, systems of marginalization against them, whether they're women of color, or low income folks, they're already dealing with other things, let alone the gauntlet of things that comes with accessing their abortion care. And what happens is those folks that are already super marginalized end up not being able to access care. And again, in my opinion, it's all done by design, right. It's to make folks that need this type of care, women of color and low income folks. It makes it impossible for them to access the care. So they end up having pregnancies that they don't want, they go, you know, generations where they can't overcome that anymore. And folks that have the means to access care of always have that access. It's the folks that don't have it that getting most affected.


Rob Icsezen 17:23

And and in fact, our last episode, we we spoke with Katie Sullivan (https://www.htownprogressive.com/post/ep-22-katie-sullivan-access-to-abortion-in-the-houston-area), from the Clinic Access Support Network (https://clinicaccess.org), which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to trying to help people who are affected by these laws, the would be victims of the Texas Legislature, as I call them. And they will help people get to abortion care, because of, precisely of what you've just said. One of the many obstacles, but unfortunately, that's just one of the obstacles. These laws, though, that that you're listing out, you know, the first idea was we had a constitutionally protected right to an abortion established by Roe vs. Wade in 1973. And since then, it's been chipped away. And it's hopefully I mean, we'll see the current Supreme Court may undo that completely. But at the state level, you're seeing all these laws, just death by 1000 cuts occurring. And what I'm curious to hear is, it seems to me that that not only is is bad for access to abortion, and all these things, it actually makes our populace less healthy. Like it is a, it actively affects the people in Texas and makes our people less healthy. Is that, I mean, do you think that that's an accurate statement?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 18:38

I think that's an accurate statement. And I'd go a little bit further and say it's killing people. And if you look at the laws, not just with abortion, but also with family planning, when it comes to contraceptive access, over the last five or so years, the way the states chipped away at that, we've seen that our maternal mortality rate has gone up, and it specifically has gone up among black women. And so when we talk about what these laws do it not it only makes people unhealthy, but it kills people. And the state has started to look into that. And they've taken some time, we have not come up with any answers that are concrete. But for someone like me, who sees these folks every day, and knows what they're going through and knows how difficult it is for them to access contraception as well as access abortion care when they want it, and I know what ends up happening to folks or can presume what ends up happening to folks when I don't see them after that first appointment. I know what's, why folks are dying, and we can compare ourselves to other states, where we have similar populations and look at what's different. What's different is our laws about accessing family planning care, including abortion. And to me, the reason why folks are dying in Texas more than in other states is because of our restrictive laws.


Rob Icsezen 19:40

But, and that comparative analysis is important. I mean, we have 50 states with 50 sets of data that go over this. You had experience in New York, and now you... in Texas we have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. And it's astonishing. When you say, well, the the mortality rate from abortions in this state has gone up because of these laws. And that does not sound the alarm, and and in fact, people are dying as a result of this. What is what is the debate like on the other side? How are people justifying this, I'm just I don't understand how the that data can exist and people say with a straight face, that they're supporting these laws. And in fact, every session, they try to implement new ones.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 20:21

Yeah, I think when we look at what the opposition is thinking, and we try to make sense of it, it's difficult, it's impossible. And oftentimes, especially providing abortion care in Texas, where you're dealing with a lot of these laws, or talking to patients about these laws, folks will try to make sense of it. "Well, why do they want me to wait 24 hours? Why are they forcing the physician to do this? Why are people dying, and we're not doing anything about it?" And it doesn't make sense. It's not designed to make sense, their policies don't make any sense. They're not rooted in any sense. Speaking of policies, one of the policies that's going through the legislature in Texas right now, is death penalty for anybody who has an abortion and anybody who provides an abortion. (https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB2350) I personally cannot make any sense out of that, and if anybody can, I'd love to hear their knowledge about that, and their thinking about it. But to me, that doesn't make sense. None of these policies make sense. And your time and energy spent on trying to make sense or rationalize them, to me is just wasted. And so I think instead of making sense of it, we just have to give the highlight, what's actually happening and push back against it, because it doesn't, it's not designed to make sense.


Rob Icsezen 21:25

Yeah, it's not like these people are in a philosophy class, defining sort of when life begins for a fetus and and weighing the interests of the person carrying the fetus against the fetus itself, and going through a real detailed, honest discussion. Like that, that debate exists, and, you know, happens somewhere. It is not happening in the Texas Legislature!


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 21:46

Not that I'm aware of.


Rob Icsezen 21:47

[laughing] It is not... it does not inform any of the laws that purport to, I don't know... actually, the laws just purport to try to end abortion period. That that's the position that's out there. And so how do you think this? I mean, we have folks like you, who are brave and go out and do the work that needs to be, to be done. But we're not all doctors. You know, what, so what can progressives and and others who are hopefully allies, do to try to end this and and evolve out of this, this chasm?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 22:21

Well, I think one thing is, we do want to end it, but it's it's a, it's a long term game. The folks who are opposed to this, politicians especially, have been in this for a while. They're very well organized, very well funded. And they have mounted a, you know, effort, and they copy their policies state by state, and they're very well organized. And I think for us who are committed to this, we have to know that it's a long term game, we have to stay informed, and know the facts, know information that is based on folks who provide the care. That means physicians, that means support folks from places like CASN or a Lillith Fund (https://www.lilithfund.org/), that provide support to folks accessing abortion care. We have to know the facts and and stay on top of it, so that when you're aunt at Thanksgiving says something about abortion, you can say actually, blah, blah, blah, about the facts. And that's important, because there's a lot of misinformation from the opposition. And oftentimes, even though we may think "that didn't sound right," we need to know the facts and be able to push back against it. And oftentimes, the opposition is not basing their their information on factual information. And we can come back and say, This is the reality of it. These are the statistics, this is what actually happens. A lot of people will pause and say, "Oh, I didn't know that." Because just like we talked about earlier, a lot of these things aren't out there. And most people don't know that information.


Rob Icsezen 23:40

Yeah.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 23:41

So I think that's the most important thing. Stay informed, stay on top of it, know that it's a long term game and keep fighting. There's other things that folks can do: volunteering at your local Planned Parenthood. A lot of clinics are typically under attack by protesters. There's folks outside, patients accessing care sometimes have to go through that gauntlet once it gets clinic.


Rob Icsezen 24:00

I mean, are you seeing that when you go to work every day?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 24:02

Every day.


Rob Icsezen 24:03

Every single day, there are protesters outside your place of work?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 24:06

Yeah, I would say there's more... there's probably days that I can count on my hands when there's not at least one protester outside of the clinic. And so most days, if not almost all of them, there's at least one, if not more, protesters outside of the clinic. Recently it was Good Friday, so we had a huge showing of protesters. It was about 50. So people, buses of people, children that were coming because they were off on that day. They don't know what they're doing there. But they come there and they harass our patients. They have microphones, those loud speakers, they're yelling things into the clinic. And they're, they're harassing our patients, and they're, they're terrorists, they're terrorizing our patients and terrorizing our staff.


Rob Icsezen 24:41

And that, that itself is just, it's worth pausing for a moment to understand how truly despicable that is. Because healthcare, your health decisions, whether it's an abortion or anything else is, and the law acknowledges this, one of the most private and personal things a person can, can have or do or think about. The integrity, the respect, the dignity of a person, your health care is intertwined with that, like nothing else. And the law, in fact, acknowledges this, through all the privacy requirements, you know, people have heard of HIPAA. We have, you know, laws that are very stringent about your health care. But when it comes to abortion, that goes out the window, and you have this, just savage attack on people's integrity. And that really is what it is. That's how I look at it, at least.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 25:36

Yeah, it's, it's really awful. And again, as somebody who works in the clinic and sees folks that have gone through that and come into the clinic, the level of anxiety and fear and uncertainty about what they're going to see in the clinic based on having gone through that sort of guantlet before they come in, is, it's really unsettling. And there's, oftentimes we spend a lot of time sort of reassuring them that I'm a real doctor, this is a real clinic, we provide good health care, you're going to be safe here, we have to say that over and over again, because the lies and misinformation that they get from folks just, you know, who are protesting outside of the clinic is huge. And they seem really nice, they seem really helpful, and they talk to them, they stop them, and they're not sure what to do. Let alone all the other laws and all the other things that they're trying to navigate, it just adds to the stigma of it. And you don't see that in any other type of health care, specifically for abortion.


Rob Icsezen 26:23

Yeah, well, and one of the things, all that all that effort kind of goes to chip away at the presumptive legitimacy of a health care facility. Which we have, if you are a licensed health care facility, you are legitimate. That's one of the wonderful things about living in a modern, you know, "first world" country. Like, you can trust your doctor.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 26:40

Yeah.


Rob Icsezen 26:41

But, they chip away at that by doing all of this stuff.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 26:45

Exactly. And, and our at our clinic, where I work, we do provide abortions, but we also provide family planning care, you can get your pap smear there, your breast cancer screenings, we provide vasectomy care. There's a lot of other things that we do there. Unfortunately, all the patients coming to that clinic have to go through that. Even at some of our other clinics where we don't provide any abortions, sometimes there's protesters there. So it again, it doesn't make sense, that if we try to make sense of it, you're wasting your time and effort. They're there. There's not much we can do about it legally, unfortunately.


Rob Icsezen 27:13

So one of the things about the, this strategy, I think that that it highlights a problem in our system, in modern society, let's say, that I'm curious to hear what you think about. We're doing a show on vaccinations, soon, with another doctor. And we're going to be talking about climate change as well. These, in modern society, we have the wonders of science and, and technology. And there's a layer between that and, you know, not everyone's a scientist, not everyone's a doctor. So people kind of develop this distrust in, in the products of science that affect them personally, like believing that climate change is real, is easy, if you are, if you understand science, kind of generally, if you have a trust in the scientific community. But if you listen to, sort of, the oil and gas community or interests and the politicians who are bought by those interests, then you start to question. And so we have this climate change debate, that global warming might not be real or not man made, which is only happening with non scientists. The same thing happens in, with the vaccinations and the efficacy of vaccinations and the importance of vaccinations. And and right now, with what you've just said about abortions, the legitimacy of science is being questioned. It seems to be an effective strategy. And it's so, it's so harmful and pernicious, I think, to our community.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 28:50

Yeah. And I think, for me, at least, my sense is that it's rooted in education. So if you don't have those tools growing up, and as you're just your brain is forming, and you're learning how to weigh information, weigh facts, and decide for yourself what that means and how much weight to give that. And if your upbringing tends to have a religious tint to it as well, sometimes you may not be able to balance what you're hearing factually versus what you're believing. And sometimes I think folks have a difficult time weighing that information as they get older, because they've sort of have become used to not weighing factual information and sort of believing that something is because somebody saying it is.


Rob Icsezen 29:29

Yeah.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 29:30

And if they hear it over and over again, then it's got to be true, right? Well, I've heard five people say it, or I read it on Facebook nowadays, right? Or I've seen it somewhere, and it's got to be true. And they've never had to weigh information, learn factual information and know how to grapple with that, and come to their own understanding of what that is.


Rob Icsezen 29:47

Yeah.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 29:47

And I think oftentimes, what happens is sometimes factual information comes to a head or is at tension with what they're believing or what their religious institution may be saying. And it's not that it's wrong, it's just sort of conflicting. And they don't have the tools to come to a resolution about that. And so they end up having to choose one or the other. Well, I've got to believe my religion, or if somebody says this based on, you know, it being a religious thing, then I'm going to believe it. And that's not to say that all religions bad, it's just that oftentimes they haven't had the tools or develop the tools to understand that you can hold both of those at the same time, and come to your own understanding of what it means. And it's more complex and nuanced. And we haven't come to that place yet. Or a lot of people haven't come to that place yet.


Rob Icsezen 30:28

Yeah, I think you you hit the nail on the head. It's all about education. And all of these progressive issues come together. I mean, I think that there's a reason that education is underfunded, and that the the opposition really looks to intertwine education with religion.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 30:42

Yeah.


Rob Icsezen 30:43

But but the the point of religion, and being being an impediment is, is really tied to the idea of faith versus evidence based reasoning, analytical reasoning. And I think that not everyone's going to be a doctor, not everyone's going to be a scientist. But everyone can have a basic understanding of logic.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 31:03

Yeah.


Rob Icsezen 31:04

And analytical reasoning, how you take a set of, evidence and make a conclusion from that evidence. And when you can question, what degrees of certainty we can have based on the work that's been out there. But also part of it is just trusting in institutions, which, that's being chipped away as well.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 31:27

To some extent, yeah.


Rob Icsezen 31:28

And, and so yeah, I mean, what do you think we can do to foster that side of the equation?


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 31:35

I mean, I definitely don't have the answers. I think staying informed learning, and, and being aware of your sources of information is also important. And fact checking, and then talking to folks that know, right. Again, if you're thinking about abortion, talking to somebody who provides abortion care, and actually does this work and seeing what it's actually like, not just listening to somebody who's saying what it's supposed to be like, or what they've heard, talk to somebody who knows, and and weigh that information, knowing that the source is directly related to that, is very, very different than hearing from other folks who are disconnected from the, from what you're trying to learn about.


Rob Icsezen 32:07

Yeah, well, and and we're going to try to, not try, we're going to share some resources you forwarded to me and in preparation for this talk, some really great resources with just exactly what you're talking about. Some really good explanations of the history leading up to abortion and some stats around abortion. And and we'll share that on our website.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 32:29

Great.


Rob Icsezen 32:31

And, and help people get there. I mean, because it's a very personal thing. So it's hard to say just Hey, publicly come talk to me. Well, no, this is personal. This is, it has to do with my health care and a really intimate, tough decision for the folks who have that decision in front of them. So it's, we've got to try to just make things available to the extent possible. Yeah


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 32:50

Yeah.


Rob Icsezen 32:50

Yeah. Okay. Well, this has been really fantastic. Dr. Kumar, really appreciate the work you're doing. I mean, I can't say enough that you really are hero in the community for going out in these, under these conditions. And I hope that what we can do is we can work to make it so that not everyone has to be as brave as you.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 33:11

Thank you.


Rob Icsezen 33:12

So well, thank you for being on the show today. Really appreciate it.


Dr. Bhavik Kumar 33:15

Thanks for having me.


Rob Icsezen 33:16

Alright.


Next week we'll be talking with another physician, Dr. Bich-May Nguyen, as we shift our focus away from abortion to a similarly crucial public health issue: vaccinations. Hope you'll join us!


So if this discussion made you think, motivated, you are hell even made you angry! Hit that subscribe button at www.htownprogressive.com or wherever you get your podcasts. ***end music begins to fade in*** Don't forget to tell all your friends about us! Also, we've revamped our website with more information and accessibility. Now we'll be providing a transcription of all new podcast episodes shortly after they're released. And we'll be doing the same for back episodes slowly but surely. Another thing you'll see on the website is an option for swag! It's not available yet, but we hope to have T-shirts and other cool stuff for all you awesome H-Town Progressives soon. So again, keep checking back with www.htownprogressive.com. And as always, we'd love to hear from you! If you have a comment, a topic idea, or a guest suggestion email me at rob@htownprogressive.com. Or give us a call and leave us a message with your comments at 281-915-9561. Again, that's 281-915-9561 and we'll put your message on the show.


Thanks for listening! I'm Rob Icsezen! And THIS, is H-Town Progressive!


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