Abortion doctor faces long days, clashing politics

Katie Alberti

Editor’s note: This is part two in a two-day series. Dr. Richard Brown (who asked that his name be changed for safety reasons) is an abortionist who performs an average of 30 abortions a day.

Around 5 p.m., Brown finished his final procedure. Shortly after, he sat with me in the nurse director’s office to discuss his profession.

The only Republican employee of the clinic, Brown says Americans tend to have backward ideologies, which leaves the topic of abortion in a tangled web of strong opinions and conflicting religious beliefs.

“The politics of abortion are a very, very strange thing,” he said. “In general, most people who are pro-choice are anti capital punishment, and most people who are pro capital punishment are pro-life. I think if an animal rights group had a position, it’d be pro-choice, and the NRA, if it had a position, it would probably be pro-life. The whole thing doesn’t make much sense.”

As his frustration level rises with the irony of Republican and Democratic ideologies, Brown begins citing examples of hypocrisy off the top of his head. Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are No. 1 on his list.

“They were against abortion, now they’re for it because if you want to be elected as a Democrat, you have to be,” he said.

No matter the amount of attention abortion receives, Brown says there’s no turning back the clock, despite what political actions are taken against it. Even if abortions were to become illegal, women would still find ways to have the procedure.

Although he’s proud of the work he does, he admits if all children could be adopted and lived in good homes, he wouldn’t want or have to do what he does.

“I often say that I’d stop abortions if somebody would take these babies and give them a good life,” he said. “It also seems strange that most of the people against abortion want to cut welfare. Politics are very strange. There’s no doubt in my mind that this (abortion) has helped in (Cleveland’s) communities.”

People say abortion should be available, safe and rare

Growing up with a father practicing obstetrics helped Brown become interested in the field. His father was constantly busy, but loved what he was doing — and it eventually rubbed on to Brown. And after experiencing the tumultuous era of the women’s rights movement in the 1960s, he knew it was something he wanted to do.

Now, with 30-plus years of experience, he sees the impact abortion has made. Nationwide, Brown said, abortion rates are decreasing because clinics have been performing thousands of terminations for more than three decades. After doing so many, the abortion rate has decreased because unwanted babies are not being born. Those children, he says, are the ones who tend to commit the most crimes and use abortion as birth control.

“It’s not just happenstance that crime rates started going down in the mid-80s. Most of your abortions in this country tend to be done among lower classes — the less educated classes, the classes that are going to be more prone to crime because they are in bad circumstances,” he said. “So if you’re decreasing that population, you’re going to decrease all of these things and also probably make fewer abortions.”

But abortions becoming rare, he says, will never occur because people make mistakes. Brown has performed abortions on girls as young as 11, and women as old as 44. Ages vary, but a central theme is apparent among his clientele — there are two groups of women who come to the clinic: the accidental pregnancy women and those who continually make bad decisions.

“These are girls that if they don’t have this baby, they have a better chance of pulling themselves up and bettering themselves,” he said. “But then you get another group — they’re just so stupid and so uneducated. I hate to say it, but the kid isn’t going to have a chance in life. Fifteen years from now, it will be either impregnating someone or be back here for a termination.”

After working a full eight-hour day, Brown looked at me with frustration and described most of the young women who come to his clinic as “damn irresponsible.” Brown admits he would love to not have to give abortions. If there were another way to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies, he’d be content solely working at his private practice. But, it’s not, so he said it’s better to help the situation than ignore it.

“People say abortion ought to be available, safe and rare,” he explained. “Unfortunately, as least from what I can see, it’s going to be a long time before it’s rare. But as long as it can be available, safe and in a way that’s respectable for the women,” it’s beneficial to society.

A tiring job

Around 6:30 p.m., Brown walks through the dimly lit corridor on the third floor of the clinic and proceeds to the elevator. When he reaches the ground floor, he zips up his black leather jacket and heads toward his car. He quickly gets in and departs for home.

After a long day at work, he’s welcomed home by his wife. Brown said he doesn’t schedule a lot to do when he gets home — he and his wife may go to dinner or a movie — because he’s so tired.

When he does meet with friends, he rarely discusses his job.

“Most of the people I discuss it with I know very well. I’ve had a couple of good friends of mine who are very pro-life, and I explain what goes on, and you know, that’s the way it is,” he said. “It’s not something that if I was going to a cocktail party, and I didn’t know the people, I would probably bring up. I don’t have problems with doing what I do, it’s just you don’t want to make more problems for yourself.”

Although he’s at an age when many people retire, Brown said he’s content spending his Saturdays at work. He is proud of his profession and loves working with women. The abortion world may not be what he thought it was when he first started working at Preterm, but it’s something he says he’s proud to be a part of.

* Asked that his name be changed for safety reasons

Contact news editor Katie Alberti at [email protected].