All too many women have reported bad experiences in abortion facilities. Women’s stories on sites like Silent No More tell of rude and abusive abortion workers, filthy conditions, and coercive tactics. But in some cases, abortion workers themselves have spoken out about abortionists they worked with who treated women horribly. Here are few cases where abortion facility workers admitted that abortionists were misogynistic and cruel to the patients they were purportedly trying to serve.
One abortion worker recounted the following story to pro-life author Randy Alcorn:
One day the doctor was in a hurry to go play golf. The poor woman was crying because he was rushing the procedure to dilate her cervix. She was in a lot of pain and really afraid. He got angry and told her, “Spread your legs! You’ve obviously spread them for someone else, now spread them for me.”
Merle Hoffman was the co-founder of an abortion clinic that she ran for many years. In her 2012 memoir, she talks about sexist remarks from abortionists:
[S]ome doctors would make blatantly sexist remarks. “Come on, you knew how to spread your legs before you got here, you can spread them for the exam,” a doctor once chided. Another commanded a patient to keep still, saying, “Keep your backside on the table – you should know pretty well how to do that by now.”(1)
Pro-choice author Carole Joffe interviewed abortion industry workers for her book, “The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family-Planning Workers.” When detailing problems abortion workers had with their employers, she writes about the way abortionists treated the patients:
Another counselor grievance concerned doctors’ interpersonal style with patients. Certain doctors were accused of being too abrupt or “insensitive” with patients… Bernice [an abortion worker] recalls that when “Dr. Stuart first came, he did a very racist number on a couple of patients. I called him on it, and he has changed.” Some specific accusations of insensitivity were related to the rejection of obese women for clinic abortions.… [These patients pose “special difficulties” in an emergency.] Counselors felt that some doctors handled this admittedly difficult situation in a particularly mortifying way.
So abortion workers were upset by abortion doctors’ racism and body shaming. This doesn’t paint a picture of dedicated professionals whose heroic mission in life is to help women.
Another insight into the character of those who commit abortions is this admission from an abortionist who was interviewed by a pro-choice author:
I’m sure there have been doctors involved in performing abortions who have hated women….If you felt at all sadistic about women, this was an area where you had them completely in your power.(2)
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who presided over 60,000 abortions until his pro-life conversion, also described working with abortionists who mistreated women. When he worked at New York’s biggest abortion clinic shortly after Roe v. Wade, he described some of the doctors as:
Vicious, even sadistic with the patients… They would use unnecessarily large instruments on women with first pregnancies, or refuse to use the local anesthetic, or show the fetal tissue to the patient when she had not asked to see it. They were sometimes so impatient that they would shout at the patients if they squirmed on the table.
Former clinic worker Joy Davis described what it was like working for a particular abortionist:
I was very uncomfortable around Dr. P, so I decided not to work for him any longer. He invited me to go out to dinner with him to discuss it. I went to dinner with him to discuss how I felt about the way he treated his patients, and how he acted. He stated to me that he loved inflicting pain on women, which was the reason he did not use any medications for pain.
She mentioned another doctor from Tennessee that had told her “that he did not have any respect for women, that he never respected a woman, and that he certainly didn’t respect women that let him come in there and let him do an abortion on them.”
Sometimes it was not the way that abortionists treated the women that was so disturbing, but the way they treated the staff. Pro-abortion author Magda Denes was told the following by an abortion facility worker she was interviewing for her book, “In Necessity and Sorrow, Life-And-Death in an Abortion Hospital”:
I really feel that about several of the doctors. That there’s really pathological things in their involvement with abortion. Like Dr. Roderigo. [pseudonym] He is very sarcastic and he really, you know, like goes after people. Recently he had a horrendous fight with Rachel [another clinic worker]. It was absolutely, totally disgraceful. It happened right in the nurse’s station. He flew at her. Cursing, screaming out loud, yelling, you could hear it all over the whole floor. It was incredible, I mean, imagine the kind of feeling that gives the patients on the floor. He was just out after her and it had to do with her being a woman, in her position, kind of…
One abortion facility worker in Illinois testified before a court that the abortionist at the facility where she worked engaged in a campaign of harassment against staff:
You always knew when he was mad at you. Verbally the language and the things, the names people were called, it was a constant thing there….calling a woman a whore was not beyond this man. He always talked about short skirts and the girls’ legs.
The one thing all of these accounts have in common is the shocking disregard for the dignity of women shown by these abortionists. Clearly, they are not champions of women’s rights. Rather, they are sadistic towards their patients and employees who happen to be women. These abortionists are not crusading feminists who wish to improve women’s lives. They are in the abortion industry to make money, and, perhaps, to have the opportunity to hurt or punish women. Women who go in for abortions are vulnerable, and some cruel men [and women] delight in that vulnerability. Abortion is a very lucrative business for a doctor, and an opportunity to degrade women.
- Merle Hoffman Intimate Wars: the Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room (New York: Feminist Press, 2012) 76 – 77
- Miriam Claire The Abortion Dilemma: Personal Views on a Public Issue (New York: Insight Books, 1995) 128-130