A 1959 photo shows Eugene Glick with his sons, Steve (left), Daniel (center), and Bob (on top of Eugene), who died in 2001. (Photo: Courtesy of The Glick Family)
Our father was an obstetrician/gynaecologist. Over the course of his career, he has delivered countless babies, performed surgeries and mentored families. He also arranged abortions. Before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, he treated women with perforated wombs, septic shock, hemorrhage, and other tragic consequences of illegal abortions and “back alley” procedures, many performed by unsanitary, untrained hands.
After Roe, giving abortions became part of our father’s practice. He also shared the joy of giving birth to a baby for parents looking to start or expand their families. He witnessed the fear of women who became pregnant by partners who abused them, or of men who would not support their offspring. He also shared the relief one woman felt when she ended an unwanted pregnancy because she was about to start school, because she had more children than she and her husband could bear, because she knew she wasn’t ready to be a parent yet. because she was the victim of incest or assault.
Later, Dad arranged for abortions in Nevada. Without naming names, he would tell us about conservative public figures who would thank him for discreetly helping them when their mistresses or daughters became pregnant. He spoke to Mormon lawmakers who told him, “Gene, I don’t like the idea of abortion. But I hate the idea of the government having to tell us what to do even more.”
Dad walked past people he knew by name to provide a medical service that was foundational to his identity as a physician: to help his patients with one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. Protesters broke the windows of his clinic, threw stink bombs in the letterbox and put his name on a hit list. They killed one of his colleagues.
After he retired, Dad literally wrote the book on abortions – “Surgical Abortion,” which educated other doctors in safer, faster, and less traumatic techniques Dad developed after 1973. He reassured patients that the decision to have an abortion was not something stigmatized for them, but rather was a mature, courageous choice.
With his famous humor, he tried to convince opponents of abortion rights – most of whom were men – of the implications of an unwanted pregnancy. His book has a section called “If a Man Could Get Pregnant” where he put it this way: “If a man screwed up for one minute and swelled up for nine months as a result, he got hemorrhoids, swollen breasts, varicose veins, gave two or three months left and then had severe cramps for 12 to 16 hours followed by the passage of something the size of a bowling ball through his rectum, how do you think a man would react?” Especially if this inconvenience were to be followed by “an obligation to raise another human being for 18 years…and allow all this to happen when it was against his will. Do you really believe a man would accept that?’
Our father would never act as judge or jury if a woman came to his office. He understood that women had a thousand different reasons for coming to him. One thing he was sure of: none of those reasons were the government’s business. He believed that forced pregnancy and forced birth were crimes against humanity, and it would be of no use to him.
Our father understood that women had a thousand different reasons for coming to him. One thing he was sure of: none of those reasons were the government’s business.
When we consider how angry and incredulous our father would have been in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overthrow Roe, we know he would have shared stories about the women—and the men he helped throughout his long career. The women who sent him pictures of babies they’d had when… she chose to have them. The women who showed up at his clinic after days of driving because they had nowhere else to go and no money – and he helped them anyway. The men who sat in the waiting room, grateful and relieved.
Dad, like us, would be outraged at the disgrace of our recent Supreme Court nominees, who apparently outright lied to get confirmation. It’s hard to understand the pure Machiavellian thinking that led Mitch McConnell… refuse to fill a court in the name of “let the voters decide” ― and then hurry a last minute nominee to confirm a third nomination of Donald Trump. By what standard of decency or democracy has that happened?
Our father performed abortions because he knew the horrors of living in a country where reproductive rights were denied to women and people in labor. He knew that his patients had struggled with their consciences, their beliefs, and their needs before they came to him. Our father supported everyone with kindness and reassurance and also practiced medical hands.
We’re not exactly sure what Dad would do now, but we’d both bet on one thing: He’d still fight for a woman’s fundamental right to control her body and her reproductive decisions. As men who have inherited our father’s brave and compassionate legacy, we feel compelled to do the same―and we call on others to stand up, speak out, and join us.
Daniel Glick is a journalist and author. He is a former Newsweek correspondent and has written for more than 50 national and international publications, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Rolling Stone, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Washington Post. His book “Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth” (PublicAffairs) won the Colorado Book Award.
Steven Glick is a retired Registered Nurse who has worked in ICU and neurotrauma medical units, as well as in a cardiac catheterization lab. During his career he was a nurse educator for new nurses, a nurse representative on a hospital ethics committee and a visiting lecturer in palliative care at a university. He has been married for 35 years and is a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.