Dr. Cheryl Chastine is charming and unassuming as she meets with her patients in a Midwestern clinic. Her hair is pulled back in a large clip and she’s dressed in sneakers and fitted Grey’s Anatomy-branded scrubs—even though she’s never seen the show. As evidenced by the recent Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs and the arsons at abortion clinics across the country, abortion providers take great risks to their personal safety to ensure that the 1 in 3 women choosing abortion are able to receive safe care. That is why there is no photo of Dr. Chastine in this story (though we did ask for one).
Seated in a small counseling room, Dr. Chastine begins every session by asking her patients how they are doing, not just in the moment, but in the totality of their lives. Most patients talk about their children and their futures, which is unsurprising because two-thirds of women having an abortion are already parents, and women who are able to receive the abortion they want are six times likelier to have positive aspirations. Dr. Chastine’s tone is calm and reassuring as she explains the abortion process in-depth so her patients know what to expect. She is thoughtful about her word choice so her patients feel safe and understand the confusing (and often medically inaccurate information she legally must tell them).