Under-the-Radar Violence in the Conflict Over Abortion
Written by: Mark Crutcher, President, Life Dynamics Incorporated
Research by: Carole Novielli and Renee Hobbs.
In the ongoing battle over abortion, the issue of violence is a consistent theme. Supporters of legalized abortion define it by the eight abortion clinic workers who have been killed as well as the destruction and vandalism that sometimes occurs at abortion clinics. Abortion opponents counter that none of this compares to the violence inflicted upon the unborn inside the nation’s abortion clinics. They will also cite the physical attacks that are committed against peaceful anti-abortion protesters.
Lost in all of this is the alarming level of abortion- related violence that takes place outside the public’s view. As just one example, in my 1996 book, Lime 5, I referenced more than 30 documented criminal cases in which abortion clinic doctors had been charged with raping or sexually assaulting their patients. In just these few cases, several hundred women were known to have been victimized.
A textbook illustration of this problem was seen in 2001. Arizona abortionist, Brian Leslie Finkel, was charged with sexually assaulting a patient who was undergoing an abortion at his Phoenix abortion clinic. When this incident was reported in the local media, more than 100 additional women made similar allegations against Finkel to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. He was eventually charged with over 60 counts of sexual misconduct involving
35 women. In 2004, he was convicted on 22 of those counts and sentenced to 34 years in prison.
Life Dynamics was peripherally involved in this case and a detective with the Phoenix Police Department sex-crimes unit told me that there was no doubt that the 100-plus women who came forward represented
only a small fraction of Finkel’s victims. According to this detective, those in charge of the investigation had concluded that, during his 20 years in business, the actual number of women assaulted by him may have exceeded a thousand.
In Lime 5, I wrote that, “When we originally designed the outline for this book, a chapter on rape and sexual assault was never envisioned. Although we had often heard rumors that this sort of thing happened, we had no reason to believe it was widespread enough to deserve more than a passing mention. However, as more and more data came into our office, we began to see that rape and sexual assault in abortion clinics is not uncommon at all.”
The ensuing years have not only reinforced this view but they have also shown that the patterns seen in the Finkel case are typical. A woman comes forward; her accusations generate publicity; that publicity produces a flood of additional victims; the new accusations reveal that the assaults have been going on for years.
It is not possible to determine with any certainty how widespread this problem is. Within the law enforcement community, it is known that the shame and stigma experienced by sexual assault victims results in only a small percentage of all sex-based crimes ever being reported. In the kind of instances being discussed here, that problem is compounded by the stigma associated with abortion.
Although early proponents of legalized abortion contended that its legality would eventually eradicate this stigma, in practice that never happened. What this means is that, in order for women who are sexually assaulted at abortion clinics to speak out, they must be willing to be identified with two highly disagreeable stigmas. Logically, this assures that these assaults are going to be reported to law enforcement at an even lower rate than are those committed in other venues.