In a recent article in The Federalist, former abortion worker Annette Lancaster describes how poorly abortionists at her Planned Parenthood facility treated their patients. She says that they “often talked badly” about women while committing their abortions, adding, “Sometimes physicians would not use the proper amount of sedation. They would tell the patient they were providing them with certain medications, but they were out, so the patient didn’t get it.” In other words, these abortionists were not feminists and instead mistreated the women who were their patients.
Other former abortion workers, as well as people currently in the abortion industry, have made similar claims about the abortionists they worked with. All too often, abortionists are not feminists or the champions of women’s rights pro-choice activists like to claim they are.
A former abortion worker told pro-life author Randy Alcorn the following story:
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.” (1)
Merle Hoffman, who co-founded and ran an abortion facility for many years, wrote about sexist remarks from the abortionists she worked with:
[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.” (5)
Another abortionist revealed his contempt for his patients when Norma Goldberger, who was planning to open a new abortion facility, approached him trying to learn more about the abortion business. She went to an established facility and asked to witness an abortion. The director of the facility took her in the back to speak to the abortionist. Goldberger recalls:
I heard the clinic director explains to the physician, “There’s this really smart woman here that wants to see an abortion.” The doctor paying half attention responded, “If she’s so smart then why is she here?”
I realized at that moment that he assumed I was there for an abortion and he felt birth control failure was the result of being a dumb woman.
Not all the doctors performing abortions are feminists. (2)
Goldberger did go on to open her own facility and eventually hired an abortionist. The abortionist she hired turned out to be one of many ‘non-feminists’ as well (more on him later).
Contempt for patients
In testimony before the Florida House Healthcare Committee, abortionist Michael Benjamin gave a description of what he said was the average woman seeking an abortion:
I think it is basically a personality type who generally has her life out of control…. They drift, they tend to live for the moment in terms not only of their sexual practices but in terms of their economic lives and they are people in general who don’t think beyond the moment, who don’t plan for tomorrow, and who really will take life as it comes and deal with the rest later.
Much stronger contempt is expressed in the words of an abortionist who was interviewed by pro-choice author Magda Denes. She quotes the abortionist:
The patients are subservient to us, and when they rebel it’s very simple: Go to somebody else….What better relationship can a man have with a woman? Besides, if you finger f*ck thirty women a day with your fingers, and in a way you do, this is a form of sexual violation. (7)
This is an older quote, but so striking I decided to include it. Contempt for women has been a common thing among abortionists since the early years of legalized abortion.
Another abortionist revealed his true feelings about women when he called a radio show. This abortionist may have been overwhelmed by intense feelings due to his job killing babies and examining their body parts day after day. He expresses deep bitterness in his words:
The first time, I felt like a murderer, but I did it again and again and again, and now, 20 years later, I am facing what happened to me as a doctor and as a human being. Sure, I got hard. Sure, the money was important. And oh, it was an easy thing, once I had taken the step, to see the women as animals and the babies as just tissue.
We don’t know if this abortionist stayed in the abortion industry or left, but it’s clear that he was deeply troubled by his job, as well as hardened by it.
Sexist and racist attitudes
Goldberger, mentioned earlier, and the abortionist she hired, who she identifies as Dr. Peters, went to visit a health official to discuss the new abortion facility. Goldberger writes about the meeting:
Dr. Peters agreed to be our medical director for an extra fee. He requested that I drive up to Akron to meet with a representative of the Medical Board of Akron. We met for cocktails and the representative seemed to take a personal interest in me. I announced I had to return that night to my husband.
Dr. Peters asked me what I thought about the meeting and when I told him I was offended at the flirtation, he told me I should’ve stayed the night with the Board’s representative to cement “good relations” between him and the clinic. He did not appear to be joking. I was annoyed. (3)
Dr. Peters wanted Goldberger to sleep with the representative to curry favor with him and the medical board. The abortionist wanted her to grant sexual favors for preferential treatment for the abortion facility, and by extension, for himself. He was willing to act as a pimp, prostituting his business associate to benefit their business. No man who respects women would ever want to do such thing.
Goldberger also recalls another experience with Dr. Peters. Peters went to meet with another abortionist at a different abortion facility. When Goldberger asked him about the other abortionist, Dr. Peters said:
“He’s a typical Jewish doctor with rich Jewish patients. He’s interested in women. When we sat at a bar he admired a woman walking past” …
I cringed inside at the Jewish comment. I’m proud of being Jewish and recognized his description as being an anti-Semitic stereotype.(4)
Nevertheless, Goldberger continued to work with Dr. Peters, for the abortion facility was financially profitable for both of them.
Former abortion worker Joy Davis described what it was like to work with one 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. (6)
This echoes Annette Lancaster’s claim that some doctors shortchanged women on anesthesia.
In these examples, abortionists are not committed feminists trying to improve the lives of women. Their involvement in abortion is more likely to be due to the profits they can make rather than a desire to champion women’s rights. In some cases, the owners of the facilities and people who worked with them tolerated their behavior. Perhaps they knew that it would be difficult finding replacements for the abortionists, as fewer and fewer doctors are willing to commit abortions, because of the nature of the procedure as well as stigma in the medical community. Rather than risk being without an abortionist, they tolerated sexist and abusive behavior.
- Randy Alcorn Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2000) 214
- Norma Goldberger Abortion Confidential: Secrets of an Abortion Clinic Owner (November 23, 2014) Kindle Edition
- 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
- Rachel M MacNair, Ph.D Achieving Peace in the Abortion War (The Feminism & Nonviolence Studies Association, January 2009)
- Magda Denes In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital (New York: Basic Books, 1976) 126