Department of Pathology

Women’s March 2017: Montefiore Pathology Resident Stands Up for Social Justice

 liz richards(1)About 500,000 Americans converged on Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 21, a day after the 45th president of the United States was inaugurated. The Women’s March on Washington, along with satellite events across the country and around the world, gave citizens of all stripes an opportunity to voice their concerns over cuts to healthcare, the curtailing of women’s reproductive health services and other policies promised by the new administration. 

Among the marchers in the nation’s capital was Elizabeth Richards, MD, a native New Yorker and a fourth-year pathology resident at Montefiore. Dr. Richards is currently doing a fellowship in gastrointestinal and hepatopathology at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2018-2019, she will be a fellow in general surgical pathology at Stanford. 

Dr. Richards recently spoke with the Pathology News about her decision to become a health care and social justice activist.

Pathology News: Why did you decide to march? 

Dr. Elizabeth Richards: The Women’s March for me was not just about women’s issues but about the broader goal of protecting the rights and freedoms of all oppressed groups. I felt it was important to show up and show that we’re a country based on tolerance, acceptance and equality. So many groups came together for the march. It was beautiful to see us all standing up for each other’s rights in solidarity.

PN: Whom did you march with? 

ER: I marched with a group of friends, most of whom are returning Peace Corps volunteers and active in health care policy and development.

liz richards marchPN: What was the experience like for you? 

ER: It was very positive and peaceful. Everyone was smiling and even though it was incredibly crowded, people would make way for each other and help each other out.

PN: Did the Women’s March inspire you to get involved in other ways? 

ER: Prior to the 2016 presidential election, I was not politically active. Going to the Women’s March inspired me to become more engaged. I have now made it part of my daily routine to write to Congress every day. Midterm elections are coming up in two years and we must be ready. I’ve also made it a habit to donate to organizations that are fighting for the causes I care about such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. There are marches going on almost every day in New York City. I can’t make it to most of them because of my work schedule, but if there is one on a weekend I try to show up.

PN: As a healthcare professional, why has political activism become important to you? 

ER:As a physician I feel that I have a special responsibility to stand up for my patients. The threats to the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and to Planned Parenthood would have a direct negative effect on the community we serve here at Montefiore. I feel it’s important for all voices to contribute to the dialogue. As a physician, I can speak to some of the specific consequences these proposed policy changes would have on health care. I’m particularly concerned with women’s access to reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood provides preventative care and cancer screenings for millions of women every year, many of whom would otherwise not have access to care or would be unable to afford it. I worry that if Planned Parenthood is defunded we’ll see an increase in cervical and breast cancer and other serious medical conditions that affect women’s health.

PN: Do you see your participation in the DC march, and the activities you’re now involved in, as representative of Montefiore’s long tradition of social justice advocacy? 

ER: I can only speak for myself, but I hope this article inspires more people in the Montefiore community to get involved. There are many of us already. I urge everyone to reach out to their representatives in government on a regular basis. We need to let them know how we feel about issues that affect us and the communities we serve.

There’s an app called “Countable.” You enter your zip code and it connects you to your representatives. You can select the issues that are important to you, and you’ll get a daily notification about what’s going on in Congress. The app provides a summary of the issues and what the opposing sides have to say. After reviewing the information, you can send an email to your representatives via the app.

Click here to log in