People magazine published an interview with Howard Dean this week, full of the usual babble and fluff. But buried beneath it were some surprisingly newsworthy comments. Consider Dean's skittishness during the interview about his work for abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
"Were you both active in Planned Parenthood in Burlington?" asks People of Judy and Howard Dean. Judy Dean tried to downplay their work: "We both worked there, while we were residents, but I wouldn't call it active." Not active? Howard Dean served on New England Planned Parenthood's executive board.
Then Howard Dean defensively answered a question not asked: "And no, neither of us ever did an abortion." People's interviewer, puzzled at Dean's defensiveness, asks, "Why do you say it that way?" Howard Dean: "Because I always get asked that."
"Why didn't you perform abortions?" asks People, a logical question given Dean's loud support for abortion and close connection to Planned Parenthood. Howard Dean: "Because we don't do them. They don't train residents to do that." Really? Young doctors in residence at Planned Parenthood are shielded from abortions? That's implausible since residents at Planned Parenthood are offered training.
Judy Dean's answer to the question was, "When we were residents, we were working there basically to get GYN experience because you don't generally do it on hospitalized patients. And then you start to have a practice without having a lot of GYN experience."
Sensing some vaguely hypocritical backpedaling, People asked the Deans, "Do you have a moral opposition to performing the procedure? I mean, you're both physicians, you at some point --" Howard Dean cut the interviewer off, saying, "I think that's a private matter between the physician and the patient. I don't have a moral problem, but neither of us is trained to do abortions. We're both internists. Internists don't do abortions.…It would be malpractice if we did."
This answer deserves further journalistic scrutiny, especially since Vermont is a state which allows non-physicians to perform abortions. If non-physicians can perform abortions in Vermont, why can't internists, especially one who served on the board of Planned Parenthood?
"There is absolutely nothing to prevent an internist from doing an abortion in Vermont," says Vermont Right to Life head Mary Hahn Beerworth to TAS. "This is just smoke and mirrors.…There is no law in place preventing him from doing abortions if he wanted to."
According to the last available data from Vermont Department of Health, half of abortions in Vermont are not even performed by doctors, says Beerworth. She notes that on the Vermont state form for abortion "there is a box for 'other' when it lists who can perform abortions."
When People asked Dean if he would do abortions "if you'd had had the training," he punted. "I've learned long ago not to answer hypothetical questions like that. Both of us chose internal medicine so we never had to make that choice. I firmly believe in the right to choose. This is a private matter between a doctor and a patient. It's none of the government's business," he said.
Dean has no training in abortion? According to a 1998 Vermont Magazine article, Dean "certainly understands the medical procedures involved" in abortion. So he understands abortion procedures but couldn't perform them even in a state where it is legal for him to do so? That's puzzling.
Dean's comments to People magazine raise more questions than they answer. In a state where non-physicians are performing abortions, it seems remarkable that a former Planned Parenthood doctor and board member would never have performed, assisted at, or referred for abortions. (If a Republican presidential nominee had worked for the NRA, served on its executive board, and then said he didn't own guns, wouldn't the press find that a little curious?)
Dean's "proud association" with Planned Parenthood is rapidly becoming an embarrassing one. It may be occurring to this recipient of the Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger award that the country isn't liberal enough to elect as president someone so intimately connected to the nation's largest abortion provider. You can see the speed of the backpedaling in Judy Dean's comment "I wouldn't say active" (of their work for Planned Parenthood.)
But this is characteristic of Dean and his Park Avenue radicalism. He has never wanted to be seen implementing the radical policies he advocates. When he signed Vermont's homosexual civil unions law, he made sure to do so behind closed doors at his office. The press was outraged.
Will this same curious press now get to the bottom of what Dr. Dean did behind Planned Parenthood's closed doors?
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