By Sarah Terzo
Sometimes even pro-choice clinic workers become frustrated with the attitudes of abortionists they work with. The truth is, with such a shortage of abortionists in the United States, clinics often must content themselves with whatever doctors they can hire, regardless of the doctors’ behavior towards women.
Carole Joffe is a pro-choice writer who has written several books about abortion providers. She interviewed clinic workers for her book The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family-Planning Workers.
She quotes one worker as saying:
Some doctors tended to initiate small talk with the counselors and essentially ignore the patients: most counselors felt that this was insensitive: “she’s lying on the table having an abortion… She doesn’t want to hear what you did with your boyfriend last weekend.”(1)
So much for abortion being between “the woman and her doctor.” These doctors don’t even speak to the women, and most likely see them for only the time it takes to do the abortion. When doctors act as though their abortion patients aren’t even in the room, it can add to a woman’s sense of isolation and pain. The quote also shows that some abortion doctors are only interested in killing women’s preborn babies, not supporting them through their abortion experience.
But being ignored by an abortionist, although it shows a certain insensitivity, is not tremendously heinous. However, there are clinic workers who have made more serious allegations against abortion doctors they worked with.
Sheri McDaniel, who worked in an abortion clinic under Dr. William Malcolm Knarr, made this comment in a sworn affidavit:
If women cried after the procedure it was up to the nurse to console them; if Dr. Knarr was not shouting at the nurses to ‘get them up and out’.”
Assuming that McDaniel’s statement is true, Dr. Knarr showed an appalling lack of respect towards women. The more women a day an abortionist can operate on, the more money he makes. Rushing women through their abortions benefits the abortionist, but clearly not the woman who may be subjected to substandard care. It is far more likely that a hurrying doctor, rushing to get each abortion done quickly so he can move on to the next patient in line, will botch an abortion.
Magda Denes observed abortions and interviewed abortion workers in one busy abortion clinic. Although the book she wrote, In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death inside an Abortion Hospital, was published decades ago, her observations are still compelling and, sadly, relevant. Abortion clinics have not changed all that much since the book was written.
Denes quotes one clinic worker as saying:
I really feel that about several of the doctors. That there’s really pathological things and 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…
The clinic worker is describing the abortionist’s attitude towards the staff rather than his patients. However, if “Dr. Roderigo” has such a volatile temper and strikes out so viciously against other employees, one can only wonder how he must treat the women in his care.
The next quote comes from a former clinic worker, who told her 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.”(2)
The abortionist’s vicious words show a profound lack of respect for women. This abortionist is obviously not a crusader for women’s rights.
Abortion clinic owner and operator Merle Hoffman described much the same behavior from abortionists who worked with her:
… some 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.”(3)
There are many more examples of abortionists treating their patients badly. In a future article, I will share some disturbing quotes from the abortionists themselves.
1. Carole Joffe The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family-Planning Workers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986) 97
2. Randy Alcorn Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2000) 214
3. 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
Editor’s note. This appeared at liveactionnews.org and is reprinted with permission.