Pro-choice author Carole Joffe interviewed abortion workers. Many of them expressed frustration with abortionists who treated women badly. Joffe writes, “Certain doctors were accused of being too abrupt or ‘insensitive’ with patients….” She continues with examples from the abortion workers:
Bernice 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. Compared with their colleagues elsewhere, however, the Urban counselors had few complaints about the interpersonal style of the doctors with whom they worked.1
Apparently, abortionists at other facilities were even worse.
Former abortion workers have spoken about the way their facilities humiliated overweight women and charged them extra for abortions.
And allegations of racism call to mind the abortionist who told pro-lifers, “you adopt those ugly black bastards.”
Abortionists also refused to stop procedures after women said no, writes Joffe:
Infrequently it happened that a patient became so upset during the procedure that the counselor felt that it should be stopped.…
For the Urban physicians, on the other hand, the ruling premise was that any procedure, once started, should continue – as long as it was medically safe to do so…. For some doctors at Urban, “starting” meant any contact with the patient, including the preabortion pelvic examination.…
The point is that the doctors have far more tolerance of emotional distress than the counselors did. And the ultimate decision to continue or discontinue past a certain point rested with the doctors.
Because of the scarcity of doctors willing to do abortions, abortion workers hesitated to criticize them.
One clinic worker said that at a meeting where counselors were urged to be assertive with doctors who did not treat patients well, “If you were from a rural clinic, like I am, you’d never talk like that. We have to handle our doctors with kid gloves.”3
The fact that so few doctors are willing to do abortions causes a shortage of abortionists. This means that abortion facilities cannot afford to lose their doctors for fear of not finding replacements. Carole Joffe says that due to this, counselors “do not typically voice complaints.”
This calls to mind the situation of abortion facility director Norma Goldberger. She kept abortionists on staff who rushed through abortions and endangered women’s lives because she could not find replacements if she fired them or they resigned.
Abortionist Don Sloan quoted a woman who was humiliated by the abortionist who committed her abortion. The woman said:
He kind of leered at me, you know? But at the same time, he really had an attitude – like I was dirt or something. I thought, was it cause I’m black? But I think it was just him.
He said, “Get your things off and lie down.” And I’m thinking isn’t there a gown or something? I was standing right there. So, I asked for someplace to change and he said, “Do it in here. We have to get this over with.”…
When I went to put my feet in the stirrups, my legs were too long. And while he’s adjusting them, he’s making these cute little remarks about my legs and my nail polish. I’d already paid, and I wanted to get it over with too, or I’d have been out of there….
It hurt – a lot. And I could hear the suction thing – it was real loud, and it was like it was sucking out my whole insides. I kept asking questions, and the whole time he didn’t say one thing. Just ignored me.
When I got up, I felt sort of faint, and there was blood running down my leg. I showed him, and he said it was nothing. But when I went to get my clothes, the blood was getting on the floor. And he said to me, “You’re dirtying things up. Get back up here.” He did some more stuff, and I heard the machine again.4
This abortionist may have been willing to send this woman home with an incomplete abortion which could lead to a dangerous infection. He only continued the abortion procedure because he was annoyed with her for bleeding on his floor. Obviously, this is very poor medical care.
All too often, abortionists treat the patients badly, and abortion workers often feel forced to tolerate this behavior.
- Carole Joffe The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family-Planning Workers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986) 106
- Carole Joffe The Regulation of Sexuality, 107
- Don Sloan, M.D. with Paula Hartz Abortion: A Doctor’s Perspective, a Woman’s Dilemma (New York: Donald I Fine Inc., 1992) 234 – 235
“Like” Live Action News on Facebook for more pro-life news and commentary!