Being a doctor who performs abortions means you always fear your life is in danger
Threats and violence are no way to disagreeBy Diane J. Horvath-Cosper October 29
Diane J. Horvath-Cosper is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and a family planning fellow in Washington, D.C.
Every few months, I do an Internet search for my name, as recommended by a media-savvy colleague. In the past I’ve found myself in all the predictable places — among a list of doctors who graduated from my residency program, on my employer’s Web site, in various social-media posts. But in the stillness of a warm evening this past August, after putting my daughter to bed, I found myself in a new and terrifying place: an anti-choice Web site that claims I am part of an “abortion cartel.” In addition to my office address and links to find my medical license numbers, it features several photos of me. In one of the photos, taken from social media, I’m holding my then-15-month-old daughter.
Though the site claims to be “informational” in nature, the real purpose is clear. There is no better way to intimidate and incite fear than to target a family member, especially a child. The message is unambiguous: I’m being watched, and so is my daughter.
I am an obstetrician-gynecologist. Among the many medical services I provide my patients, I perform abortions for women who need them. That’s made me a target for harassment online and in person over the course of my career. Unfortunately, my experience is not the exception among my colleagues who perform what the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled is a legal medical procedure in all 50 states.
Before I moved my practice to D.C., I worked in a family-planning clinic in Minnesota, where security guards had to escort doctors, nurses and other employees from our cars while anti-choice extremists wrote down our license plate numbers and took photographs. After a while, I stopped hearing the wild accusations and prayers they shouted at staff and patients alike. When a new clinic building was constructed, it included an enormous locking gate, a tall perimeter fence and secure underground parking.