By Tony Gosgnach
The Interim

The last few months haven’t been kind to abortionists’ public images (not to say they had good ones to begin with). But things may have hit a nadir for them with the conviction of one of their most celebrated heroes on numerous charges of sexual abuse.

Gun-toting, foul-mouthed, in-your-face Brian Finkel of Phoenix, Az. – who ran what he called “a vagina vault” and stocked some 30 firearms to boot – was found guilty, after a gruelling 12-week trial, on 22 counts of sexually abusing his patients over a period of 17 years. He was due to be sentenced on Jan. 2 to a sanction of up to 75 years in prison.

Women testified that Finkel twisted their nipples, kissed them or fondled them inappropriately during examinations. However, 90 per cent of them had not even filed a complaint until media reports emerged that he had been arrested – indicating that women are reluctant to come forward, and suggesting that the problem of abuse in abortuaries may be far more widespread than commonly believed.

That’s certainly the opinion of investigators such as Mark Crutcher of Texas-based Life Dynamics International, who published the ground-breaking book Lime 5 in 1996. In that publication, he outlined how rape and sexual assault in abortuaries “is not uncommon at all,” and went on to document 34 sexually abusive abortionists.

That may still be only the tip of the iceberg, said Crutcher, since studies show only 15 per cent of rapes are reported. In the case of abortion, the reporting percentage may be far less, because of the stigma attached to the procedure and those associated with it.

Crutcher found that one abortionist was alleged to have sexually assaulted more than 160 women, while another was the target of complaints from more than 100 women that he had tried to sexually stimulate them. Another, in Los Angeles, was accused of misconduct from more than 100 of his clients, including that he performed several rapes right on an examination table.

For his part, Finkel had become somewhat of a media darling during the 1990s, regularly appearing on network talk shows to denounce what he characterized as a campaign of violence against abortionists. He was even feted by trash-radio host Howard Stern, who at one point wanted to hold a parade in Finkel’s honour.

His media friends seemed to have deserted him during the latest episode, however, as it was hard to find any mention of Finkel or his criminal case in mainstream media outlets outside the Phoenix area.

But the Finkel case is far from being the extent of troubles abortionists have suffered recently. In other matters:

  • A New York state medical review board in December suspended the medical licence of Katonah, N.Y. abortionist Joel Novendstern. The board found that he had been grossly negligent in abandoning a patient suffering life-threatening complications after an abortion. Novendstern tore the patient’s uterus, causing her to go into shock after she was transported to a hospital. She had to have a hysterectomy performed on her later. Experts said that the episode could have proved fatal.
  • A Bend, Ore. abortionist was charged in November with sexually abusing two of his patients. It was also found that Ronald C. Stevenson had faced similar complaints six years earlier while working in Washington state. Women said he had kissed and caressed them, usually after they awoke from anesthesia. Again, some of the women didn’t bother reporting the incidents initially, until they learned others had come forward with similar allegations.
  • Newburgh, N.Y. abortionist Paul Meyer is facing charges of unauthorized practice of medicine, insurance fraud and petty larceny. He had previously lost his medical licence for acts of negligence that included the abortion of a 29-week-old preborn child. Meyer faces one to four years in prison on the felony charges.
  • A $210,000 (US) judgement was awarded against Akron, Oh. abortionist Barry Fish in November, after he admitted to mistakenly aborting a viable preborn child. The parents of the child had sued, claiming that the act robbed them of a child they wanted and left the woman with the horror of delivering a partially aborted child several weeks later. Fish’s lawyer had tried to characterize his client’s conduct as “an honest mistake” not worth an award of any more than $30,000.
  • Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency in October denied a request for a reduction in the prison term of abortionist John Biskind, who was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison after a patient’s death from a botched abortion. It was found that Biskind had left the 33-year-old woman to bleed to death on a gurney while he left for an appointment with a tailor.
  • The family of a Los Angeles, Ca.-area woman who bled to death after an abortion at a Planned Parenthood facility is suing both the abortuary and abortionist Mark Maltzer for what they say is her wrongful death. Diana Lopez, 25, bled to death after her 19-week-old unborn child was aborted in February 2002. A state report on the death said her cervix was punctured during the abortion, causing uncontrollable bleeding. The lawsuit alleges Maltzer “worked so quickly, recklessly and negligently, pulling out sharp body parts of Diana Lopez’s 19-20 week-old unborn infant, that severe, irreparable damage was done.” Meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood abortuary itself was cited for six serious health code deficiencies.