Editor’s note: This article first appeared at The American Spectator.
When asked in the last presidential debate what she wanted in a Supreme Court justice, Hillary Clinton did not hesitate to go to abortion. “I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose,” affirmed Mrs. Clinton, to no one’s surprise.
There is nothing more sacrosanct to Hillary Clinton than a “woman’s right to choose.” It is her alpha and omega, beyond doubt her highest priority. I wrote an entire book on the faith of Hillary Clinton, and the one thing that struck me above all else, from start to finish, was her absolute fealty to Roe v. Wade. It is Hillary’s hill to die on. I believe Hillary Clinton would give her life for Roe v. Wade.
In the course of the research for that book, which was titled, God and Hillary Clinton, I stumbled upon a claim that blew me away, which I instantly knew I had to check out. I was told that Hillary Clinton’s OB-GYN in Arkansas was no less than the state’s leading abortion doctor. Yes, to repeat: her doctor, allegedly, was Arkansas’ top abortion provider. His name was Dr. William F. Harrison, I was told, and he openly admitted and boasted of having performed tens of thousands of abortions.
I couldn’t believe it, but certainly couldn’t drop it. As a biographer, you don’t ignore something like that (well, if you’re a liberal biographer you do). So, I did some digging, and even took the time to dare try to contact Harrison. I reached him. I would interview and correspond with him via several emails and phone calls in December 2006 and January 2007 (before the publication of my book) and again in multiple emails from September 2007 through July 2008 (after publication). What he told me is worth knowing.
Harrison confirmed that he was not only Hillary Clinton’s OB-GYN, but her personal friend, one who talked politics with her, and, indeed, proudly conceded that he was the single largest abortion doer in Arkansas.
Harrison told me he had met Hillary in 1974, just after she and Bill left New Haven (Yale law school) for Arkansas, where Bill began building a political portfolio and both he and Hillary joined the law faculty of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville: “I met Hillary first as her physician and she soon introduced me to her then boyfriend, Bill.” He came to know them personally as well as professionally. The reasons for their introduction had been a source of speculation around Arkansas by the late 1980s, but Harrison said he met Hillary simply as a result of her yearly OB-GYN exam—presumably, her first check-up since moving to Arkansas. He later met Bill by happenstance when all were eating at the same local restaurant.
Harrison immediately addressed the elephant in the room, without my asking: “Hillary never saw me for an abortion,” he told me. “I don’t know of any abortion that Hillary ever had. And I would be shocked if she had.”
I shared with Harrison my struggle to explain how Hillary Clinton could be a lifelong, committed “old-fashioned Methodist” (as she put it) and so staunchly, rabidly favor legalized abortion. Harrison was offended by intimation: “Hillary [is] a Methodist,” he snapped. “I was raised a Methodist. The Methodist church [is] very strongly pro-choice.”
The United Methodist Church (UMC) at the time officially supported legal abortion, and was a member of the hideous Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which, mercifully, it finally withdrew from only this past April. The UMC’s liberalism on abortion appealed to Hillary and her abortion-providing doctor.
Like Hillary, Harrison saw legal abortion as moral. He waxed religious in searching for words to characterize it. He described his patients as “born again,” even while conceding, “I am destroying life.” He candidly called himself an “abortionist”—a term of derision employed by abortion foes. “You don’t understand,” he reprimanded me. “I consider what I do very pro-life. I am saving lives when I do abortions.”
Harrison was not reticent with me. He had a forceful personality, possessed by a righteous certainty that he was doing the right thing. He tried to convince me. He sent me a copy of his book, which sits on my office shelf to this day, in which he graciously inscribed, “For a kind and generous Paul Kengor.” The title is, There is a Bomb in Gilead, a fictional work set in a town called “Gilead” just before Easter Sunday in the mid-1980s, in which the town’s “abortionist,” a “Dr. Hobson,” saves a “beautiful young unwed mother of two” who is pregnant a third time. Dr. Hobson, a self-autobiographical character for Dr. Harrison, spares the beautiful mom from the menace of her undesired fetus and the still-worse menaces: the “pro-life religious fundamentalists” who declare an “uncivil war” on the little town and the unwed mother.
The “lessons to be learned” in the book, wrote Harrison, “are as timely as … tomorrow’s headlines.”
William Harrison never expressed regret over the thousands of unborn babies whose lives he snuffed out. He would go to his grave viewing himself as having fought the good fight.
Harrison died of Leukemia in September 2010. The death from cancer was ironic, given the glowing tribute to him in the New York Times:
“Oh, God, doctor, I was hoping it was cancer.”
Those words so affected Dr. William Harrison that for years, he said, he could not repeat them. They made him break down in tears.
The woman who spoke them—black, poor and middle-aged—had come in 1967 to the Arkansas hospital where Dr. Harrison was a medical student in obstetrics. A doctor, after examining her swollen belly, had told her she was pregnant.
Only in the wretched world of New York Times Culture-of-Death liberalism could this be seen as a touching opening to the story of a man’s life. How perfectly progressive of the Times, how Margaret Sanger-like: A poor black woman comes to Harrison with something happening around her belly. Ultimate catastrophe strikes when she learns that it’s a baby inside. Yes, a baby—worse, that is, than cancer. Deliverance can come only with the benevolent blade of the knife-wielding abortionist.
The caring doctor is moved to tears at the tragedy (as no doubt were the Times’ faithful readers). He thus at that pivotal moment feels and heeds his call, his vocation: abortion. The next line in the Times piece sheds light on the path of compassion for Harrison that lay ahead: “Dr. Harrison went on to perform 20,000 or so abortions over three decades.”
Yes, 20,000 abortions.
And sadly, lamented the Times, this hero to women “became a frequent target of abortion protesters,” who the stoic freedom fighter “castigated … as ‘right-wing crazies.’”
“For decades, he was the only doctor in the region willing to provide the procedure,” reported the Times in admiration. “In typically flamboyant language, he said, ‘I have chosen to ride this tiger unquietly, raking its side with verbal spurs, swinging my hat and whooping like a cowboy.’”
The Times’ reader smiles at the image: The brave Dr. William F. Harrison, the gunslinger who rides off into the sunset after saving the pretty girl. The eyes moisten.
Speaking of God, the Times informed its progressive flock that Harrison “grew up going to Methodist and Baptist churches … and twice read the entire Bible at 12, ending up, he said, thoroughly unimpressed with the God it described.”
Thoroughly unimpressed with the God of the Bible, Harrison humbly replaced the Author of Life with himself, a self-avowed destroyer of life: “Dr. Harrison readily admitted that he destroyed life,” noted the Times, “but denied that he killed babies. His view was that an embryo was far from being a human being with a brain. The higher moral value to Dr. Harrison was salvaging the future of an often disadvantaged girl or woman.”
And yet, even the Arkansas abortionist had his limits. And those limits ought to be pointed out today to his most-famous patient: “But he drew a line at performing abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy,” noted the Times, “partly, he said, because they made him uncomfortable and partly because he felt he lacked the expertise.”
Two words conveniently omitted from the Times’ obituary of Harrison were those of his renowned patient: Hillary Clinton.
No surprise there. In fact, never once has anyone in the mainstream media contacted me about Harrison, even as I initially broke this story in a major 2007 book published by HarperCollins.
There’s much more one could say about Hillary’s abortion doctor, but I’ll end with something that has stuck with me for a long time since those first interviews with Harrison 10 years ago.
I raised the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton with Harrison. I couched the possibility in the context of the many things that the president at the time, President George W. Bush, was doing to honor unborn life—quite a departure from the previous president, Hillary’s husband.
I noted how Bush, on his first day in office, had authorized a ban on all U.S. funding of international abortion-rights groups, reversing President Bill Clinton’s executive order. I noted that in January 2003 Bush had signed the “Sanctity of Life” bill, and then, two months later, did not veto the Republican Senate’s ban on partial-birth abortion. He signed the ban. Bush also began commemorating each January 22 as a National Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life Day. On and on.
I asked Dr. William Harrison if he expected that a President Hillary Clinton would change these policies. The abortion doctor again invoked religious language: “Oh, absolutely…. I hope to God she does.” He meant that literally. He and other pro-choicers were (and are) counting on Hillary.
Though he was in his 70s at that time, Harrison did not want to slow his activity at the abortion mill, at his Fayetteville Women’s Clinic. He was eager to continue performing about 1,200 abortions per year. The key, said Harrison, was whether the electorate could appreciate both the Clintons, whom he said history would judge “with a much more reasoned and rational mind than the idiots who have hated [them], seemingly for no more reason Christ was hated.”
Yes, Hillary Clinton, hated like Jesus Christ, and for no more reason.
A President Hillary Clinton, like the late Dr. William Harrison, is hoping to keep the abortion torch lit, the flame ablaze. For her, like him, it is a righteous crusade, one not in conflict with the God of their faith.