I have to admit I have been truly blessed to grow up here in Pittsburgh and have been able to come to know so many amazing history makers. Two of those men were Dr. Robert Kisner and Dr. Morris Turner. These two men help change the face of gynecology and obstetrics in Pittsburgh and through out the country. They dedicated their service in medicine to providing care to under-served women and championing women’s reproductive rights. Together they ran a private practice and saw patients at local hospitals. In our community everyone knew someone who had been delivered by one of these doctors.
I personally can vouch for the work they have done. Before passing away these gentlemen saw me through 5 pregnancies. Dr. Turner passed away one month before my last child was born. I had an appointment that day and I sat in the office feeling like a family member had died. I remember my fourth delivery was scheduled on the day of a full moon. Over 100 women went into that day and there were no beds, so since I was being induced and not in active labor I had to go home. After working for hours he called me at midnight and told me he was off but he would wait at the hospital for a bed to open so I could come in. He treated everyone like that. Dr. Turner was born to a family of sharecroppers and picked tobacco and cotton as a child before going off to college with only two changes of clothes to his name. Eventually he became chief of gynecological services at Mckeesport Hospital, President of the medical staff at Magee Woman’s Hospital, and medial director for Adagio Health and Allegheny Reproductive Center.
Dr. Kisner was no less amazing than his partner. Together they pioneered the use of nurses and nurse practitioners to provide more accessible healthcare to women in need. He was also among the first in the area to accept medical assistance for payment. Dr. Kisner along with another noted Black physician Dr Robert Thompson were some of the first doctors to advocate use of “The Morning After Pill” in the 1970’s. He was medical director of the Family Planning Council of western PA and worked with Allegheny County Obstetrics and Gynecology Society, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Gateway Medical Society. It was his mission to provide safe and affordable care to women in his community.
Both of these men impacted thousands of lives. They saw a need and answered it by giving themselves fully to their community. Women in Pittsburgh and across the country are grateful for their fight on our behalf.