If abortion defenders are correct that abortion is necessary for women's liberation, and abortion providers should all be applauded for their efforts on behalf of women's rights, then it should follow that sexual misconduct of doctors doing abortions should be rare.
Any group may have its bad apples, and can't be blamed as a whole for it. Still, being sensitive on women's issues should mean that a collection of stories of sexual mis-use of patients should be hard to come by.
Unfortunately, not all abortion doctors themselves see it that way. Consider this, from In Necessity and Sorrow, which is definitely a pro-choice book: "Basically every gynecologist doesn't like women, otherwise he couldn't work with them. He enjoys the position of mastery over them. The fact that he is the god, king, they do what he tells them, which is what he would always want women to do, because every man wants his women to be subservient to him. The patients are subservient to us, and when they rebel it's very simple: 'Go to somebody else. Don't come back to me, if you're not going to take my advice.' What better relationship can a man have with a woman? Besides if you fuck thirty women a day with your fingers, and in a way you do, this is a form of sexual violation." -- Dr. Abraham Holtzman (a pseudonym), the chief of gynecological and obstetrical services at a major New York abortion hospital.
Dr. Holtzman's view of gynecologists as a whole is unusual and inaccurate, but it speaks volumes that this abortion provider sees things that way. Certainly, not all do. But if that's a widespread attitude, then there must be something a little askew in the abortion defenders' press releases.
Bear in mind that in most cases of sexual nastiness in all fields, in all workplaces, schools, parking lots, and homes, what gets reported is the tip of the iceberg.
Here are a handful of the more prominent stories of sexual misconduct among those that have been made public. The names of the victims are removed to protect their privacy, and the names of the doctors are changed to initials in the event that any of them have improved in character and don't want to be embarrassed by past history.
"Dr. N.P. is accused of sexual battery and attempted forcible oral sodomy (both felonies)," according to the Dallas Morning News, June 11, 1993. The charge stems from a March 25, 1993 appointment in which a recent African immigrant alleged N.P. began trying to kiss her on the mouth, and fondling her while she lay nude on the operating table. The woman told police she awoke groggy and weak to find him fondling her and attempting to put his penis in her mouth. At an initial hearing Special Judge Russell Hall set bail at $500,000, but N.P.'s attorney asked another judge to review that amount. N.P. told the second judge he planned to leave that day for his native India to attend a niece's wedding. For that reason, prosecutors requested the higher bond. District Judge Richard Freeman said the $500,000 bond was too high, but did set an amount substantially higher than normal for these charges.
N.P. has had legal problems before, and his professional conduct has been brought before the state medical license board. He has been the target of numerous civil lawsuits alleging botched abortions and was the target of sexual harassment complaints from two female employees, Oklahoma Medical Board Case #90-09-1129. The doctor has not returned from India as of the time of this writing.
For another case, this comes from a legal petition in a law suit:
Dr. H.S., owner of three Massachusetts abortion clinics, in 1984 was reportedly treating a young female patient at his office when he "placed his mouth on the woman's breasts for several minutes." The incident allegedly happened on two occasions. He was subsequently disciplined by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, and lost hospital privileges in two hospitals. But he continued to practice abortions in his three clinics.
The California Medical Board investigated numerous complaints of sexual misconduct against abortion doctor A.L. A patient alleged that A.L. made sexual advances and had examined her in sexually inappropriate ways. In one case, a patient accused him of sexual misconduct while performing a vaginal exam. During the exam he attempted to stimulate the woman, and subsequently engaged in intercourse against her will.
In 1982, Dr. T.O. was accused of fondling a female patient's breast without medical justification. He subsequently was accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with her without her consent. This doctor, who performed abortions, was also accused of injecting patients' arms with anesthetic that caused them to become stuporous, then engaging in sexual intercourse without the permission of the woman. One woman testified to the medical board that she could not move any muscles during this ordeal, but just kept crying "What are you doing?" His medical license was revoked in November of 1989.
The Miami Herald, in August of 1990, reported that abortion doctor P.T. was convicted of performing abortions on his former lovers without their consent. He was also investigated by the Indiana Medical Board for lewd and immoral conduct toward female patients under his care. On June 11, 1991, a jury found him guilty of two counts of battery, two counts of illegal abortion and two counts of criminal recklessness. He was sentenced on July 31, 1991 to prison. In June of 1997, a Shelby County judge ordered him to pay $1.25 million damages to one of the victims who had brought suit.
In 1988 Dr. T.L., owner of a clinic in Florida, was arrested on allegations that he forced an abortion on his wife. News reports indicate that T.L. came home and wanted to have sex with his wife. She was feeling sick from the pregnancy and declined. According to his wife, he then handcuffed her hands behind her back and forced her into the bathroom of their home, secured her with a medical apparatus to the floor and used tape. After the incomplete abortion, which sent her to the hospital, the wife called the police. The criminal charges were dropped by the wife because, she said, she was too ill to testify, but the incident is on file as a matter of public record with the state medical board. Medical board officials did not pursue the matter, and the doctor continued operating.
In 1987, the Tamarac, FL police department began an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by abortion doctor J.G. He was employed by the University Women's Center abortion clinic. He was never tried on charges developed during investigations, because he died in a traffic accident prior to trial. Several cases were dismissed after his death.
The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi offers another example. "A doctor who works at a Jackson abortion clinic was arrested Friday on charges he mailed videotapes of minors involved in sexually explicit conduct to a person in Madison, Wisconsin . . . The tapes contained scenes of minors as young as four engaged in sexual conduct with adult males and females." M.C. "faces not less than 20 years and up to life imprisonment under a charge of sexually exploiting children." He drew a 13 month prison sentence and a $6,000 fine.
In 1983, Dr. N. G.'s medical license in Kentucky was revoked following his conviction on four counts of unlawful sexual transaction with a minor (a 14 year old neighbor). In 1989, he was performing abortions in Florida, but had his license revoked. He moved to Ohio, and practiced until the Ohio Medical Board learned of his history, and won an appeal to upholding his revocation in February of 1993.
Dr. R.T. had his Florida medical license suspended following an abortion-related death of a patient. In 1985, after moving to Michigan, his medical license was revoked after his conviction of First Degree criminal sexual assault and second decree criminal sexual conduct. He had forcibly transported a six year old girl in his car against her will. He admitted exposing himself to the girl and placing her hand on his penis. He also lifted the child's undergarment to expose her vulva. He released the girl when she began to cry. He was also cited for masturbating in his car outside a high school where young girls were exiting. He was released from prison on January 3, 1990, and his parole ended on August 15, 1991. He was licensed to practice by the state of New York in August of 1992.
A student nurse, filed a charge of rape against Dr. J.F. This is her affidavit.
It was my job to assist the doctors. I scrubbed with Dr. F. While scrubbing at the sink, Dr. F. kidded me about my size. He said that birth control pills would put some weight on me. He asked me if I was on them. I didn't need to be. He then said he would give me a prescription. I assisted him with the delivery and after cleaning the instruments, I went out to the nurses' station.RESPONDING
[Later that day] Just as I was leaving the lounge, Dr. F. was, as it appeared, on his way to the doctors' lounge. He said, "come here," and started walking down the hall. I said, "I'm not going in there." He then said, "that's not where we're going." I then asked, "where are we going?' Then he said, "you never ask a doctor where he's going." Then he grabbed my arm and pulled me down the stairs. . . . Still holding on to me, he took me down the hall on the left as you leave the stairs. He pulled me into a dark room on the left. Once in the room, I saw it was still under construction. The halls were completely empty. I didn't see anyone when I came onto the floor or when I left.
Thinking I could reason with him, I begged him to let me go. But he wouldn't listen. He didn't say anything and kept trying to kiss me. I kept pulling away and he kept tightening his grip on my arms. Then he said, "we've got to work out something." I said, "no!" He seemed to really be mad and I pulled away to head for the door and he jerked my arm. I knew now he had no intentions of letting me go. I was afraid to scream. I feared for my life. He then began pulling down my scrub suit pants and I fought him, but he kept one of my arms behind my back and he was able to get them down. I struggled with him, but he kept both my arms in his grip. I wasn't strong enough to get away and he knew it. He raped me. He then backed away from me and as I stood there crying, he said, "I knew there wouldn't be another time or place."
The usual response by official abortion spokespersons when these stories arise is to say that they are outrageous, but isolated incidents. For example, Jennifer Jackson, in 1989 President of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women, was asked about the H.S. case above. "NOW is appalled to learn of any doctors engaged in the sexual exploitation of women. But this is only one doctor and one incident. Others working to provide safe abortions should not be tainted by it."
You would expect the Massachusetts NOW chapter to not merely say how appalled they were by H.S.'s conduct, but also by the fact that he continued to do abortions long afterward. You would not normally expect real women's rights advocates to follow any statement of being appalled with an immediate disclaimer for the field as a whole, to temper an expression of outrage with an assertion that other people aren't as bad as this one.
The aura of the abortion clinic as a citadel of women's rights cannot be so great as to counteract what, to the ordinary mind, would otherwise look like male domination at it worst.
Those who hold to anti-abortion theory find no mystery in the numbers of cases that have come to light. The assembly-line clean-up of women, which makes them more available as re-usable sex machines, would be expected to attract practitioners of that mentality. Those with an anti-abortion bias have never bought the argument that "women's rights" is what abortionists are really after. They would see this as something to be expected, given the situation.
Can these problems be cleaned up? Surely the bad apples can be gotten rid of, leaving the clinics safer. It would make perfect sense for abortion "watchdog" groups to be active in ensuring that women get only the best and most sensitive of care. If it were in fact rare, then getting rid of it should not be that great a task, and would also be of intense interest to any genuine women's rights advocates.
Abortion clinics occasionally unleash the temptations of sexual conquest already so common in our culture. With the closed environment that abortion clinics operate in, and with the hidden nature of most sexual domination wherever it may be, it's not possible to say how much is going on. Nor can we ever know how the legal situation compares with the previous illegal one.
But we do know that the response to those cases that do come to light is remarkable. It shows a rather dangerous attitude when you consider the urgent need to get rid of this misbehavior in our society as a whole. We need to give support to women who are victimized by it, rather than worrying about the public relations damage any disclosures might do.
AND THE REST OF US?
Most of the above cases deal with abuse of patients. A couple deal with forced abortion on wives and lovers, and three deal with sexual abuse of children, rather than with abortion practice directly.
The last case, the rape of a nurse, is totally outside of the context of abortion. The events alleged happened in a hospital doing deliveries. We know that Dr. F. did abortions because of other legal troubles he had, not because of this case. But this case brings up one final important point -- the effect that ready access to abortion has on rape and other sexual assaults in the entire society.
What does it say to those men who are inclined to think about committing a rape? The fact is that since abortion was legalized, it's well established that the incidence of rape has skyrocketed. According to the American Almanac, the rate per 100,000 females was 30.4 in 1970, and more than doubled to 71.6 in 1980. Correlation is not causation, and there could be all kinds of factors causing this. But those who predicted that rape would go up when abortion was highly available have the evidence on their side.
Though there was never a conviction in the case of Dr. F., and we can't say that the actual events are as stated, his statements to her do serve as an illustration of how the this can work. It shows how abortion can serve the sexually exploitative, and thereby increases how often sexual exploitation is committed. According to her affidavit, the perpetrator was concerned about the victim's birth control arrangements. He seemed to be under the impression that she was obligated to be sexually available to him. To him, a "woman's right to choose" came to serve a "man's right to use." And the "woman's right to choose" to have an abortion makes it unnecessary for her to have a right to choose whether or not to have sex when he wanted it. She could control her own body after he was done with it.
The massive amount of rape and sexual abuse in America has been called a war on women. Most men are just as outraged as women are about it. Literal wars with soldiers and lines of command have seen rape as a common practice. If sexual assaults against women are part of the abortion war, this is clearly a part that no one on any advocacy side of the abortion debate had in mind. It should be uncovered so that it can be rooted out.
The assertion that abortion is essential to women's rights has obscured any evidence to the contrary. But as long as there is evidence to the contrary, how long can it remain obscured?
Firstly, by what right to you claim that women should be excepted from that blind submission to the caprices of men which nature prescribed for them and next, by what right to you claim to subject them to a continence that is both physically impossible for them, and of absolutely no value to their honor?
If we admit, as we have just done, that all women must be subject to our desires, we can undoubtedly allow them in the same way full satisfaction of all their own. On this point our laws should favour their ardent temperaments and it is absurd to measure both their honor and their virtue by the anti-natural strength they use to resist those inclinations which they have received in greater lavishness than we have; this moral injustice is all the more heinous in that we agree at the same time to weaken them by force of seduction and then to punish them for surrendering to the efforts we have made to provoke this fall. I say that women, endowed with far more violent tastes for sexual pleasures than ourselves, should be able to give in to them as much as they wish.
In the Greek republics all new-born children were carefully examined to see whether they possessed the possibility of one day defending the republic; if they did not conform to this requirement they were immediately slain. They did not judge it necessary there to maintain richly endowed houses for the preservation of this vile scum of human nature. Aristotle favoured abortion, and these ancient republicans, filled with enthusiasm and zeal for the fatherland despised this compassion for the individual which is found in modern nations.
Let us have no doubts about it, this abundance of population is a real vice in a republican state. However, it is not necessary to slaughter the people in order reduce their numbers. It is merely a question of allowing them the means of not propagating themselves beyond the limits dictated to them by their happiness. If, for the glory of your state, you grant your warriors the right to destroy men, grant also for the preservation of the same state, the right to each individual to allow himself as far as he wants, since he can do so without flying in the face of nature, the right to dispose of the children whom he cannot support or who cannot be of any use of the state.
But it is not when the man has grown up that you must destroy him in order to reduce the population. It is unjust to shorten the days of a well-formed individual; it is not unjust, I say, to prevent the existence of a being who will certainly be useless to the world."
-- condensed from
La Philosophie dans le Boudoir (The Philosophy of the Bedroom)