The Terminator

Trash-talking abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel has a message for pro-life zealots: "Kiss my ass."

Before he began speaking out, Finkel says, there was a constant barrage against him on local talk radio.

"I just said, 'Fuck it. I'm smarter than the pro-lifers, I can form abstract thoughts. I'll talk to the media and explain to them what's going on.' You know, I don't call the media, the media calls me. . . . I'm just a world-traveled, world-trained, world-class physician who speaks up for the little woman. That's all I am. And you know what? I do real good when I have no competition.

". . . I go after the big guys, honey. I don't like abusive men. I don't like abusive men who come after me and tell me that I'm worthless. I just won't take it. From anybody. Not from the ejaculator that inseminated the cow that birthed me, to any one of these dysfunctional, hate-filled religionists that I'm forced to interact with."

Diana Finkel doesn't buy her husband's shtick--at least not when it comes to the claim that he's so anti-pro-life because dad was a mean drunk.

"Truthfully--and this is not disparaging Brian--I think a lot of people try to blame their upbringing on why they are the way they are and don't take a handle on trying to change it," she says.

Don't get Diana wrong. She's been office manager at the clinic for years and stands behind her husband 100 percent, including the media appearances, even if that makes her a target of the pro-life movement, too.

She's also an adviser.
"When he first started the practice, I said, 'Treat each woman with dignity. Please. I've been there,'" Diana says. "Talk to them first with their clothes on. Give them that much courtesy."

And he's always complied, according to Diana. At the same time, she says, it was her idea to decorate the office. She says she told her husband, "'Let's bring things from home, 'cause we have such a collection of artwork and artifacts from our travels, before we finally settled in Phoenix. . . . Make it feel like home, don't make it feel like you're coming into a mill.'"

Yet Diana still isn't sure she "gets" her husband.
"I'm a psychology major, and I still don't understand him," she says, adding that she learns more about him, including his upbringing, all the time. "There's things--that even, being married 26 years to this man and all of the sudden, he's being open with me to tell me things--that I've never realized happened."

Diana thinks Brian is worn out, burned out, tired of the battles in the courts, the picketers at the clinic, the constant vigilance required to keep himself and his family relatively safe.

But, she predicts, he won't stop anytime soon.
"What did he say to me the other day?" she muses. "We were walking our dog and he says, 'I'm not happy unless I'm fighting.' And I said, 'Yes, that's a true statement.'"

Diana agrees that her husband doesn't get his due.
"My gynecologist who did my hysterectomy said, 'Tell Brian we're proud of him. He's taking the points.' And I said, 'Yeah, one of these days those points are going to get him shot or hurt, and then where will you be? Then your shield is gone.' I said, 'He's running front gun for you guys, and you don't even call him up and say, "Hey Brian, we saw you do this piece or that piece, we're really proud of you."'

"Nobody calls."

Perhaps the quiet phone has as much to do with Finkel's personality as it does with his practice.

Brian Finkel and John Elliott are both trained gynecologists, but the similarities stop there. Finkel runs an abortion clinic. Elliott is a celebrated obstetrician--the "Quad King," Finkel calls him--with a thriving practice out of Good Sam and a reputation for handling complicated multiple births.

Elliott remembers Finkel's days at Good Samaritan.
Technically, Finkel was a good doctor, but "his personality was difficult," Elliott says.

"How he dealt with his patients was, oh, I guess I'd say unconventional. Some of the things he would say, you'd sit there and shake your head, wondering how someone would say that. . . . He would say, 'Okay, bring it on down here, honey, we've gotta get this baby out.' Nothing gross, but just sort of crude, I guess."

". . . I think he made a wise decision" to stop delivering babies, Elliott continues. "He just wasn't cut out to be doing kind of the touchy-feely OB kinds of things, and I think the service he provides certainly is a different kind of OB/GYN care."

But Elliott wants to make it clear that he's an admirer of Finkel's.
"Brian speaks his mind. He tells you what he thinks, and that's kind of unique. Very few individuals really are up front and very honest, and I'd much rather deal with someone you may or may not agree with, but at least you know how you stand on things."

On the flip side, Elliott says, "He's in your face. He'll argue with you toe-to-toe, and he doesn't back down, and he does it in a way that's not always respectful of the other person's opinion."

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