By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
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He pauses to change into slippers and ruminate on his 30-weapon arsenal and his 17 years in Phoenix.
"I have to take care of myself," Finkel says. "You know, I didn't come to town to own the town, I just came because I wanted to. My last year as a medical student, my wife and I got assigned to Parker, Arizona, Indian Health Service. Nice rotation, liked Arizona, wanted to come back.
"After living in tornado alley in Missouri, living in Florida where we used to track hurricanes on grocery bags . . . when we were living in the Philippines with the typhoons, when we were living up in Maine--Caribou, Maine, is the most northernmost town in the United States. Fuck this, I'm coming down to Arizona.
"You know, I'm clean, I'm sober, I'm not doing drugs, I'm not stealing money, I'm trying to go to work. And I meet all these weirdoes that want to give me shit, all because I like doing abortions for women. I help women doing abortions, that's my job, I'm really good at it. I've learned from the best, and I've seen the worst. And I keep running across these people who abuse their position of trust and under the call of authority try to ruin my life."
Downstairs in the living room, Finkel cracks open a beer and offers the dog a carrot. He explains that when he first came to town he opened an office, got privileges at a number of local hospitals--which wasn't easy, as a D.O.--and started building an obstetrics practice.
But Finkel had personality conflicts at Phoenix General and Good Samaritan--he calls them "Penis General" and "Good Scam"--and later with local insurance carriers who sent malpractice insurance costs for obstetricians sky high. Finkel fought to lower the rates, and finally did, but by that time he had already started performing more and more abortions.
He had discovered the demand for the service after Diana became pregnant in the mid-Eighties. Leslie, their youngest (Shawn is 21), was still nursing. They decided on an abortion, but even though abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, none of Finkel's peers were willing to perform one.
They finally found a doctor in Mesa who snuck Diana in the back door. Diana says the procedure was horrible. No painkillers.
"He didn't even give you a local? You sure?" her husband asks. "Well, it's your vagina. You were there."
They call the aborted fetus "Ernie the Embryo," Diana says between giggles.
"These two embryos turned out nice," Finkel remarks, waving at a photo of his children.
He continues. "I'm saying to myself, 'If this is the . . . very best that my wife can access, then what's going to happen to the working Jane Doe on the street?' So I said, 'Fuck it, I'm putting an ad in the Yellow Pages, and I'll help a couple people when they come in.'
"There weren't a couple people; they were pounding on my door by the thousands!"
Not long after came the pro-lifers, or, as Finkel calls them, the "crazies in the basement."
The head "crazy," Finkel's arch-nemesis, is a Phoenix attorney named John J. Jakubczyk--"Jumping Johnny," in the Finkel vernacular.
Finkel's dealt with many pro-lifers, but Jakubczyk has been his bane, filing numerous lawsuits on behalf of women allegedly mistreated by Finkel. None of Jakubczyk's malpractice suits against Finkel have held up in court, but Finkel maintains that's not really the lawyer's goal, anyhow.
"Jakubczyk is filing the suits to make me uninsurable. He's been very successful with that," Finkel says.
Jakubczyk counters that he's only representing his clients. He says he's never won a dime for a client because often the women want to drop out of the process early.
Finkel counters that Jakubczyk has been unsuccessful because he, Finkel, is a good doctor. He has repeatedly, without success, tried to get Jakubczyk disbarred, claiming he's using his stature as an attorney to fight for a political cause.
Jakubczyk responds: "Let's put it this way. I wear one hat as a pro-life advocate. . . . When I am in my office as an attorney, giving advice and counsel to women who've been injured by an abortion, my role is as their attorney, and my passions and my concerns about the abortion issue have to take a second seat to representing the client and what is in the client's best interest."
Last month, Jakubczyk was elected president of Arizona Right to Life. He vows to continue his battle against Finkel, saying, "I hope that someday he'll realize that what he's doing is wrong, and he'll change his heart and stop killing babies."
Finkel says Jakubczyk and other pro-life activists riled up protesters to such a degree that Finkel fought for--and won--a permanent injunction that bars pro-lifers from using bullhorns or coming any closer than the sidewalk outside his office.
But the protesters still come. Finkel--who is continually admonished by the police to steer clear of the protesters--has his own way of handling them.
"I give all these guys names, 'cause that personalizes it," he says, recalling a protester from many years ago. "We had this one guy that was stalking my office with his family. I called him 'Beer Belly,' he was a fat Mexican, stuff hanging over his belt."