My name is Iman Alsaden and I use she/her pronouns. After providing in-hospital ob/gyn care in Chicago and traveling to Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood Indiana and Kentucky once a month over the course of the past two years, it became more and more clear to me that providing comprehensive reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood was where I was meant to take the next step in my career. It is a privilege to work alongside the team members across the affiliate who are all dedicated to ensuring that the communities where we live get the care they need, no matter what.
My dad is a physician and my mom is a nurse. Despite being surrounded by health care my entire life, I never realized that comprehensive reproductive health care was a medical career option. As soon as I realized how difficult politicians try to make this essential, safe, normal health care, I knew it was the care I needed to provide. I trust patients to know what they need for their bodies and their lives, and it’s an honor to be able to support them with whatever option they choose.
What does becoming the medical director for PPGP mean to you?
I'm honored to be taking on the medical director role for PPGP, and it’s because of all the team members I’ve been able to meet and get to know that drives this excitement. The collective dedication to honoring our patients wherever they’re at in their lives, and working together to make that happen, is wonderful. It’s meant so much to build deeper relationships with team members to hear more about their aspirations and ideas they have to provide even more excellent care for our communities. I look forward to continuing to get to know our team members and the unique needs of all the clinics making up PPGP.
How important is it for a community like Oklahoma City to offer the full range of sexual and reproductive health care?
Critical. Comprehensive reproductive health care, including contraception, abortion, and gender affirming care, is at the core of some of our most personal identities and life decisions. And this is true for everyone in Oklahoma City.
There’s a lot on the line in the Oklahoma legislature right now, and it is more important than ever that patients, providers, and allies make it clear that health care should not be stigmatized or restricted. I celebrate that our work is community centered and made possible by our many local partnerships in OKC working to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care. The PPGP team and I are pleased to be the recipients of a number of grants that support STI testing and treatment and contraceptive care that help provide health services to patients in need. Together, we can ensure that no matter the health care they need, Oklahoma City can get compassionate health care without political interference.
What motivates you to continue to provide this type of care?
No matter what medically unnecessary restrictions politicians try to insert into the patient-provider relationship, the need for comprehensive reproductive health care will never go away. I am motivated by the unique lives of my patients. The lived experiences of each patient that walks through our clinic’s doors are important, valid, and deserve respect and care. They have already faced so many barriers, both political and social, to get to our clinic and the least we can do is meet them where they’re at with trust and empathy, get them the care they need, and send them on their way to keep living their lives knowing that they always have the support of PPGP. We also need to remember that there are so many patients who need essential health care that we are not seeing each day due to a lack of resources to make it to one of our clinics so it is important to increase access to the care that we provide as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to speak to about your work or yourself as a provider?
There is still so much misinformation perpetuated about abortion care, people who have abortions, and people who provide abortions. I’m looking forward to sharing the medical evidence around this safe, essential care, and hopefully helping people realize that abortions, and everyone associated with abortions, are totally normal. I hope to support my colleagues as they provide gender affirming care, primary care and family planning services.
Other than that, I watch reality TV, have a goofy dog that looks like a cow, play as much tennis as possible and surround myself with the love and care of my friends and community just like everyone else. I hope that by telling my story and continuing to share the facts about abortion, we can break down some of the stigma, shame, and harassment faced by people accessing this care.