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Esquire's John H. Richardson Bumbles "The Last Abortion Doctor" Story

Is it possible that Esquire's John H. Richardson was a tad high when he cobbled together "The Last Abortion Doctor"? Read Mr. Richardson's embarrassing attempt at a profile piece on Dr. Warren Hern, a Boulder, Colorado Ob/Gyn, and judge for yourselves.

For example, take this rather elephantine factual inaccuracy in "The Last Abortion Doctor":

For thirty-six years, Warren Hern has been one of the few doctors in America to specialize in late abortions. George Tiller was another. And when Dr. Tiller was murdered that Sunday in church, Warren Hern became the only one left.

Granted, Dr. LeRoy Carhart is on a death watch and the U.S. Department of Justice has just removed his protection detail but let's wait until he's actually assassinated before we pretend he doesn't even exist. Especially in light of the fact that Dr. Carhart plans to open a clinic in, you know, Kansas.

And what about the Ob/Gyns attached to hospital clinics? They certainly aren't as high profile as Drs. Tiller, Carhart, and Hern but they do exist.

It's unprofessional for a reporter to get facts wrong under the best of circumstances. In light of the current open season on Ob/Gyn and their patients it's irresponsible to mislead readers about the availability of needed medical care.

Moving on, John H. Richardson throws a bizarre temper tantrum. Like an aggrieved 2 yo Mr. Richardson figuratively holds his breath and refuses to refer to Dr. Hern, and only Dr. Hern, as "doctor" because:

By the way, he hates the word abortionist. Though it is a simple descriptive term like "podiatrist".... All the same, it is the right word, an accurate word, and our discomfort with it is but a measure of how poisoned the language of abortion has become.

Throughout the article John H. Richardson calls Dr. Hern the "abortionist" 28 times, and giddily, even in his oxygen-deprived state, refers to Dr. Hern's family as [t]he abortionist's mother, [t]he abortionist's wife.

Mind you, don't take my word for how many times "abortionist" appears in the piece. Feel free to doublecheck as I, a deliveryist, was in a bit of a rush when I did the math on account of having to catch a ride with a bladder suspensionist to see our friend, the root canalist.

Next, we have:

But let's face it, abortion is the lowest-status activity in medicine. That's why they always call their clinics Family Planning Centers or Women's Wellness Facilities or some crap like that. Not his place. It's had the same name since 1975. Because I felt that performing abortions was the most important thing I could do in medicine.


The abortionist is very caring with all [his staff], she says. Like all doctors, he wants things done exactly his way. But he doesn't tolerate them being treated poorly. He pays them well. He gives them insurance and 401(k)'s, which is not routine in the abortion trade.

Well, duh! Not only is providing specialized, much needed and appreciated, safe, effective medical care to, you know, that lowliest, most disgusting, pariah of patients, the pregnant female, the lowest status activity in the whole of medicine and a filthy trade, but the pregnant uterus isn't even part of the reproductive tract and plays no role in a woman's reproductive function or her health status.

Last, but not least, what's with the "It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again" vibe? When your job is to convey information and you're not very good at it, the last thing you should do is to employ a pretentious reporting style. Unless, of course, your goal is to have the image of John H. Richardson twirling around in a silk cape gently interrogating poor post-op patients in the recovery room, making little old ladies cry, and shouting "abortionist" at random intervals embedded in your poor readers' heads.

Bottom line: It's a shame Esquire couldn't find a professional reporter to tell the story of Dr. Warren Hern.

ETA: Via righteousrevolution, here is what a professional profile piece on an Ob/Gyn, Dr. LeRoy Carhart in this case, looks like.
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