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Phoenix Abortion Doctor
July, 2011, Page 39
Photos by Courtney Sargent
Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick
In Phoenix, Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick quietly runs the only doctor’s office in the Valley that is both a private family-planning practice and a popular abortion clinic.
So this is what an abortion clinic looks like. Soft watercolor paintings line cream-colored walls, a refrigerator hums in the break room, muffled radio streams out from reception. It’s a far cry from a pro-choice commercial, with its bubbly nurses and glossy pamphlets, and from the pro-life vision of hell incarnate, all fluorescent lighting and dirty syringes.
Really, Camelback Family Planning appears to be nothing more than an average doctor’s office, right down to the bookshelves of alphabetized files behind the reception desk and the children’s toys in the waiting room. Although the office is an abortion clinic, it’s the only one in the Valley that doubles as a private family practice.
“I will see a pap smear patient, I will see a person with high blood pressure or diabetes, and then I’ll do an abortion,” says Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, the office’s sole physician, a 45-year-old mother of two teenagers with a warm, hearty laugh and freckled arms, her pink scrubs matching a T-shirt bearing a cartoon uterus. So this is what an abortion doctor looks like.
About 90 percent of patients visit the office to have abortions, Goodrick says – from young girls who aren’t ready to be mothers to overwhelmed working women to victims of rape and abuse. “When you do abortions, it kind of takes over your practice because there’s such a need,” she says. “The procedure is so stigmatized and marginalized that women have very few options.”
Camelback Family Planning Recovery Room
The large space features reclining chairs, low lighting, aromatherapy candles and emotional messages dating back to 2005
Women who visit Camelback Family Planning for abortions choose the clinic for its quieter, more private office, Goodrick says. Goodrick has nothing but praise for Planned Parenthood clinics, but as a former resident doctor there, she believes their patients often lack more personalized care. To Goodrick, a private doctor’s office seems more stable, everyday and typical to women undergoing an extraordinary procedure.
Even the protesters – who visit Goodrick’s office about once a week – are quieter. While hundreds picketed Planned Parenthood locations Valleywide over Easter weekend, just three women stood outside Goodrick’s Phoenix office near 32nd Street and Indian School Road on Good Friday, hands held in prayer. She says that’s because it’s a private office that puts medicine – not advocacy – first. She leaves the political stuff to others.
In March, Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer outlawed the practice of doctors performing abortions on women based on child race or sex selection. In April, she signed a law that states the state Board of Nursing cannot decide whether surgical abortion is included in nurse-practitioner duties. That month, the governor also signed a law that bans abortion telemedicine – a popular method for women in rural areas, who visit their neighborhood clinic to videoconference with an abortion provider in another city, obtaining medical abortion under his or her virtual watch. The same measure requires clinics to show women seeking abortions the heartbeats of their fetuses, if possible.
Federal funding for abortions is illegal in the U.S., through an amendment Congress has renewed every year since 1976. “There are people in this country who will not rest until abortion is illegal. Many of them have come to the realization that they cannot make it illegal so they try and make it as inaccessible as possible,” says Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion practitioners to which Goodrick belongs.
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