Former abortion center operator Eric Harrah

A "Retired" Abortionist

by Dr Jack Willke, Brad Mattes, and Eric Harrah
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Eric Harrah was part owner of one of the nation's largest chains of abortion clinics. He recently converted to Christianity and walked away from the lucrative business of killing unborn children. Dr. Willke and Brad Mattes interviewed him regarding his involvement in the abortion industry.

Dr. W: I am curious about your function in the clinic. Were you basically a business manager, owner?

Eric: I was an owner. My first position was Director of Public Relations and then I became an owner and from there went around opening clinics -- that was my biggest function with my different partners.

Brad: How did you select areas to open abortion clinics?

Eric: There were a lot of different factors that went into a decision to open a clinic. Basically, you looked in an area that didn't have a clinic in it. You would get demographic numbers, from areas that had colleges or universities, with the amount of abortions that had taken place prior to that. If it had a high abortion rate, that would be a prime area.

Dr. W: How would you hire the abortionists?

Eric: Well, before you would even go to a town, you would usually have your doctors lined up. A lot of times, doctors would contact me. There was always some doctor somewhere in some town who was already doing abortions. Also, in larger demographic areas [metropolitan areas] it was easy to tap any number of residency programs.

Dr. W: These were residents who'd moonlight?

Eric: That was not all I hired, but that was a very nice pool to be able to select from, because they were interested. You take a resident, bring him into an abortion clinic and they work part-time, even just one day a week. They can make $75,000 a year, if not more, which is very beneficial to pay off their student loans.

Brad: How many states did you have clinics in?

Eric: About 11 or 12.

Brad: And how many abortions did your chain of abortion clinics do?

Eric: If I take all the numbers from the time I started in the abortion industry to the time I got out [10 years], we probably did about a quarter of a million total.

Brad: Were the abortions that were done in your clinics limited to first trimester abortions?

Eric: Oh, no. People in the abortion business don't want to do first trimester abortions. That's not where the money is. The money is in mid-second to early third trimester abortions.

Dr. W: But you can't do those in every clinic -- or do you?

Eric: No. Every place has different laws. In New Jersey, you can only go to 14 weeks in a clinic setting, but what you do is get approved and open up a surgi-center where you can get abortions done. Pennsylvania, which prides itself on having some of the strictest abortion laws, actually has some of the most lenient and is a mecca for late-term abortions. They go to 24 or 26 weeks -- that's in a clinic setting. Delaware is 22-24 weeks -- that's in an office setting.

Dr. W: Now these would be -- what -- D&E's mostly?

Eric: D&E's and D&X's. I would never permit saline abortions to be done.

Brad: Did your staff ever delay women's abortions so that they were kicked up into the more expensive category?

Eric: I personally never did myself. You have to understand that I became (I hope this doesn't offend you, but I want to be totally honest) a lover with Dr. Steven Bringham, who I'm sure you've known or have heard of. And he was pretty infamous for that type of thing. He was also known for re- using syringes and all kinds of other things that I wouldn't do.

Brad: And he continues to perform abortions?

Eric: Yes, he does. But he gets sentenced on Monday, so he might be in jail. I don't know what his situation is going to be.

Brad: Did pro-life efforts ever stop one of your clinics from opening?

Eric: None of mine.

Brad: Would you have any advice for pro-lifers on what they might do to effectively stop a clinic now?

Eric: Oh, there are so many things they could do. You would have to do a whole separate newsletter on it. I go around speaking now to right-to-life groups clueing them in on what to do.

Brad: Are there effective ways the pro-life movement can stop abortion clinics from opening?

Eric: Oh, there are many peaceful, nonviolent ways that are totally legal that would not be part of the supposed, alleged RICO conspiracy by now. Yes, look into and act while your town does not have an abortion clinic in it. Enact laws preventing medical, surgical centers from being located within the city limits. Most towns don't worry about this until it happens, and by the time it happens, it's too late. You can pass very legitimate restrictions. There are laws they can pass about hazardous waste.

Brad: How did you get into the abortion area to begin with?

Eric: I was with some friends on our way to the beach, and we saw a right-to-life protest. I didn't even know there was an abortion clinic in my hometown. At that time I considered myself to be pro-choice. I was very liberal, politically. We pulled into the clinic and asked if there was anything we could do to help. They said we could join NOW. I joined. I became secretary of my county chapter. A year later I became vice president of the Delaware state chapter, and a year-and-a-half after that, I became their first male ever elected president.

I quit my affiliation with NOW years ago. I started to become very disturbed by a lot of their rhetoric, a lot of their hate, a lot of what I perceived to be their racism. You have groups such as NOW, the National Abortion Rights Action League and many other groups who do nothing but live off the blood of aborted children. Their interest in keeping abortion legal is not so much because they care about women's rights -- or that they are actually pro-choice. Their true interest in keeping abortion legal, in my opinion, is so they can keep their big, fancy offices in Washington. their nice clothing expenses and their personal expense accounts.

Brad: When you were involved in this industry, what was your annual income?

Eric: When I walked away from the clinics, I walked away from everything. I left my ownership and my money there. I wanted nothing else to do with it. The average doctor who does abortions one day a week at a clinic averages 25-40 abortions. He will walk away in his pocket with an average of $l00,000-$125,000 a year. An average clinic that performs roughly around 8,000 abortions will gross approximately $1 million a year.

Dr. W: One doctor can do that? That's full time, though.

Eric: No, it's not. Not at all. Abortion clinics, Dr. Willke, are set up like cattle slaughtering centers. You get 'em in and you 'em out. I would say, honestly, about 60%-70% of all abortions takes place on Saturdays.

Brad: How many women do they usually schedule in a day?

Eric: The maximum I've ever seen get done in a day is probably 50-60 women. Usually, that takes two abortionists, but I have seen doctors kick out 40-50 patients by themselves. First trimester cases -- if you have a doctor who's been doing it for a while and he knows what he's doing -- you can push through 6-7 an hour. And that goes back to the whole issue too of how little regulation there is. Even within PA, which prides itself on being the bastion for restrictive abortion laws, there really are no regulations. There's nobody to monitor these facilities. There's nobody who tracks the money that comes from the birth control companies that flood through the clinics - the paybacks. There's nobody who tracks the insurance companies that give incentives to physicians for performing abortions, because insurance companies would rather pay for abortions than pay for a full labor and delivery.

Dr. W: You get those incentive payments?

Eric: Oh yeah, they flow like water. If you're a participating member of an insurance company, they will give you incentives to perform an abortion. First trimester abortions are $250, and insurance companies such as ... I've seen them pay over $2,000 for those abortions, because they would rather pay $2,O0O-$2,500 for a first trimester case than pay $7,000-$8,000 for prenatal, labor and delivery.

Brad: So do you, as the clinic owner, pocket that money?

Eric: Oh, definitely.

Brad: Let me ask you about your attitude and contact with the women.

Eric: I would make their appointments. I would sit and talk to them in the waiting room. I would go into the procedure rooms with them. When I first got started, I was very truly concerned about the women who were having abortions, but, as in most cases, there are two reasons why people get involved in the abortion industry. The first is money. The second is because they really feel that it's helping women. But even those people who get involved because they think it's helping women - at some point in time convert to the fact that it's all about money. So you stop looking at women after a certain point in time as being people that you're helping and you just start looking at them as dollar bills.

Brad: That's what happened to you?

Eric: Definitely. I found myself, probably the last half of the time that I was involved in the abortion industry, very depressed about it, which led to a cocaine drug addiction, and toward the very end, I think I ended up hating them.

Brad: Why was that?

Eric: I think it was because of the depression and guilt that I felt, myself, and I was blaming them for it -- for coming in and having this abortion -- especially the woman that you would see time and time and time again. There was one patient who came in and had 16. Even the doctors who do the abortion become hateful toward the patients -- they become mean, rough.

Brad: So the average woman didn't get compassionate counseling when she went in there?

Eric: I would say she got counseling, but compassion -- no.

Brad: What kind of counseling did she get? It's my impression there hasn't been much.

Eric: In my facilities, I always gave option counseling. Of course you make the abortion the most appealing. I told them about adoption and about foster care and about [when there was welfare] assistance. The typical way it would go is, "Well, you know you can place your baby out for adoption." But then, in the second breath you would say, "That's an option available to you, but you also have to realize that there's going to be a baby of yours out here somewhere in the world you will never see again. At least with abortion you know what's happening. You can go on with your life."

Brad: So were the options more for your benefit to ease your conscience than for the women?

Eric: I would say that it was more for my conscience because, to be honest with you, I really didn't care.

Dr. W: And the longer you were in it, the less you cared?

Eric: Yes, exactly, Dr. Willke. The longer I was in it, the less I cared, so I really didn't really care what my conscience said. My conscience was totally numb anyway. But what it did do was public relations-wise. You were able, when a reporter or TV crew came, to pull out a packet of information for the patients to read and they received it. So what can anybody say? Publicly it looked good -- in reality it was another tool that was used to force a woman into abortion. It's typical -- I would give them an option and then shoot it down. The only option you didn't shoot down, obviously, was abortion.

And then, again, Dr. Willke and Brad, if they came in for an abortion -- if they were scared, hey, inject them with some Fentanyl. It costs you two bucks. Knock 'em out. You guarantee them they'll never feel a thing. They'd come in and say, "Oh, I'm scared to death ... I don't want to have this memory for the rest of my life." I'd say, "Sweetheart, there won't be any memories. We can give you an anesthetic that will knock you out. It costs me two bucks, but I'm going to charge you a hundred bucks extra for it. I'm going to give you some birth control pills when you leave."

And then you have the drug companies who would come in and throw these lavish parties and dinners for the clinic staff to get the doctors to write prescriptions for them. The prescriptions were written not necessarily based on what medication was bust for the patient. It was written on who gave the best part the week before. Did the one rep bring in the best donuts; did the other rep bring the best pizza? Did they give nice golf clubs this year?

Brad: Were there any direct financial incentives by drug companies?

Eric: Yes, there were.

And while there was legislation to curb that, it still goes on. You have to understand that drug reps who work on commission -- their income is generated by how many of their "scripts" are being filled at local pharmacies.

Dr. W: Let me ask about picketing out front. Did you have that in front of some of your places? And what influence did that have?

Eric: It depended on what kind of picketing it was. I found that it did nothing but infuriate people and the woman who came in. What worked, and what I hated the most, were the sidewalk counselors who would stand there and give a brochure about the local CPC. Those were the most effective, because that's when the girl would stop to have a conversation.

Dr. W: And some of those women never came in?

Eric: Yes.

Brad: You saw those dollar bills walking away.

Abortion escort tries to counter a pro-life sidewalk counselor.
Eric: You never minded it when the men were outside picketing, because that was good, especially if they were loud and obnoxious, telling women they were going to go to hell. That was productive because they would come in and say, "Who do they think they are telling me what to do?" Women were much more effective at it than men, definitely. We knew which one was going to be successful. What I found, in my personal experience, is that the women didn't usually respond to younger women because they would typically look at them and say, "You're my age -- what do you know?" But who they did respond to was older women -- middle-aged women and senior citizen women because I think, in their minds, those women had valuable advice.

Dr. W: Did you have escorts to help bring the women in?

Eric: Yes, at times, yes, we did.

Dr. W: And was that effective on your part?

Eric: It was effective when the picketers were rowdy. When the picketers were calm, it backfired on you because it was like you were trying to drag the women in. When the picketers are loud, women are looking for someone to get them into that clinic. So you would always hope, on Saturdays especially (that's the biggest day for picketing), that the picketers would be rowdy and obnoxious.

Dr. W: Is there any particular piece of literature that you recall that you feared the most?

Eric: Yes, one by your group, actually, that I used to hate. It was the one that you did about fetal development.

Dr. W: "Did You Know?"

Eric: Yes, that was the one we hated the most. That really used to tick us off. And actually what we would do is (I shouldn't tell you this, but), the right-to-lifers would get tired and they would put their stuff down on the sidewalk, and they're talking and we'd go over and take all their literature and just run with it.

Brad: What about your lifestyle as an abortion clinic owner. Your chain was one of the largest in the nation, is that correct?

Eric: Yes, it was. The thing I enjoyed, as an abortionist, were the number of celebrities and politicians who treat you as though you were a hero. Whoopie Goldberg, Cybil Shepard, Morgan Fairchild ... people who would come to pro-choice functions ... politicians who would actually court you. I had VIP seating at five Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Brad: You enjoyed material possessions too, I would imagine.

Eric: Yes. The travel, the money was just there. It was a very, very comfortable living. And it was easy money.

Dr. W: We hear that the number of abortionists is declining, is aging, and that worries the industry.

Eric: The number of these abortionists, yes, is declining, but what is increasing now is what's called "docs in a box", doctors who hold licenses in anywhere from 5 to 20 states and spend their time flying from state to state just doing abortions. You also have what are called "mega-docs" who totally control a certain geographic area. Those are on the increase. You should see the anti-trust laws that are being broken by abortion providers - the "carteling", as we used to call it, where you would get together for a friendly lunch and decide what fee was going to be charged. The reason I was hated so much by the people in the abortion industry was that I was a cartel-breaker. If I went into a town where first trimester abortions started out at $275, I would go in and charge $200, because I knew that the clinic had been around for five or six years and already had a kind of debt. I was coming in and starting from scratch. The thing was to go in and force them to shut down. It's a very cutthroat business, very backstabbing and very physically dangerous too.

Dr. W: You've known doctors doing abortions who were physically injured or lost their lives?

Eric: No, I never knew of anybody who lost their lives. I do know doctors who were physically threatened. Usually the way it happened is, if you were going to go into an area where they already were, and they didn't want any competition, they were usually very friendly. They'd give you a call, telling you that your services were not needed. If you persisted, they'd persist a little bit heavier. But I'm not that stupid. It's not worth my aggravation.

Brad: When you left the industry, you left everything behind?

Eric: Yes, I did. I didn't see how I could call myself a Christian and be living off the fruits of the abortion business. That made no sense to me. And I prayed about it, and God told me to leave it all behind.

Dr. W: And what are you living off of now?

Eric: I go around and speak at churches. I did my first CPC benefit a few months ago -- I have a couple more of those booked. I'm writing a book.

Brad: Tell us about your book.

Eric: The book I'm writing tells the story of my life in the abortion business. But it's also a tell-all book about the industry itself and it also gets into the areas of my life I was involved in, which was homosexuality and how prevalent homosexuality actually is in the abortion business. "The girls do carry on," as we used to say.

Dr. W: Homosexual males or homosexual females?

Eric: Both, and I'll tell you what -- the lesbians are far worse than the males. Anytime you have a feminist health care center that does abortions, they're often all lesbians. Within the abortion business itself, there's this love/hate relationship between the feminists and the abortion doctors, because the majority of the doctors are men.

Dr. W: You're doing something they want done ...

Eric: But they hate you because you're a man. Over the last couple of years groups such as NOW, NARAL and The Fund no longer control the abortion industry. They did for a while, but the feminists no longer control it. What you have now is a bigger struggle going on now between them and Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is hated by any doctor or [abortion] clinic that is independently owned and operated.

Their [Planned Parenthood] bread and butter is the abortions that they do. They don't do it because they care about women. That's where the majority of their money comes from. Planned Parenthood is shrewd, though, because it's easier for a politician to stand behind Planned Parenthood to support them than it is to stand behind some entrepreneurial businessman or woman who has an independent clinic. It's more socially acceptable.

Dr. W: Yes, PP has an image of doing it legitimately.

Eric: Yes, but what PP also has within the business itself is their record of being racist, squashing competition and outright lying about competition to squash them. What PP wants is a monopoly in the abortion business.

Brad: Tell us about how you switched from pro-abortion to pro-life.

Eric: I grew up in the Church, so I knew that abortion was wrong. I'd say about the last five years I was having serious depression and guilt over my involvement, which led to my cocaine addiction. I saw myself doing things like, in the morning, getting up and watching the 700 Club, just trying to have some tie back to my Christian roots, I guess you could say. Finally, when I came to State College in Pennsylvania to open a clinic (which I didn't want to come here), it was nice to have someone -- a right-to-life group -- who came to me and didn't ridicule me or call me names but reached out to me.

Brad: Give us some detail of how they reached out to you.

Eric: Well, there was a big battle getting the clinic open here in State College. I was on the front page of the paper, I think, for forty-some odd days straight. It was the biggest news story, I think, ever to hit this town. There were protests, prayer marches and all kinds of things that the right-to-lifers did to shoot me down for opening, but I was able to overcome it. (There's a whole bunch of other things that happened behind the scenes that people don't know about, which included secret agreements and secret deals with officials and different things.) So the clinic finally opened and there were massive protests every day. I said to the people with my clinic: "Don't be scared. Right-to-lifers are very fickle (I still stand behind that). They will come out and they will picket us very heavily for the first month or so, and then the numbers will dwindle until eventually there'll be hardly anybody here protesting." And that came to pass, as it always had. But that day, they came and told me that there was a football team outside picketing, and I went outside with my bodyguards to see what was going on. There was just one gentleman standing there in a Penn State football sweatshirt who started talking to me.

Brad: But he reached out to you with love and not hate and that made the difference?

Eric: Exactly, yes.

Brad: Was it a lonely existence where you were at that time?

Eric: Oh, it was very lonely. I hated State College. I had spent the majority of my time shuttling between New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris. I grew up in a small, podunk town and I vowed that I would get out of it, and I did. I thought that I had failed. I'm back where I started, even though I really wasn't. I always tell the story when I go to speak that a homosexual's worst nightmare is to be stuck in a town where there's no Macy's and no Starbuck's. This town had neither. It was a very lonely existence, yes. Steven Bringham decided it was too hot to be here politically, so he stayed back in our homes in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Brad: You shared homes together then?

Eric: Yes, we did.

Brad: You made a radical change ...

Eric: No, I didn't make a radical change. God made a radical change in me. I did nothing. I did nothing but bend to the will of God, like I should have done a long time ago. I did nothing to change myself- God changed me - because if it was up to me, and left to my own devices, I can't save myself and I can't change my way of thinking. The old me wouldn't have walked away from thousands upon thousands of dollars a week and millions of dollars in the bank - for what? To go out and get $400 to $1,000 to speak at a CPC banquet, when I was making a hundred times that a week? It's not about me, it's about God. And that's what I want people to understand.

Dr. W: How do you view violence to stop abortions from being performed?

Eric: I do not accept, nor will I ever tolerate, anyone who label themselves a Christian or a pro-lifer who advocates violence, killing someone because they're involved in the abortion business. That person is not pro-life.

Dr. W: I agree with you strongly.

Eric: Dr. Willke, the reason I agreed to do an interview with you is because, over the years, you have stayed consistent. You never advocated violence. Every piece of information I ever saw that you put out was truthful, it was honest and it was never hate-filled.

Brad: You recently came out of the abortion industry. Tell us about some of the new things pro-lifers should be concerned about.

Eric: The non-surgical, Methotrexate/Misoprostil abortions. That's a whole other racket. By the time you count the two medications and the needle you need to give the injection, it's going to cost you around $15. I was charging anywhere from $375 and others charged as much as $600. Now, here's the big racket they do with it. They bring these women in and they know it's only good up until about 7 or 8 weeks. A woman comes in at 9 or 10 weeks and they tell her about this wonderful non-surgical abortion. She's so desperate not to have to have the surgery that she opts for the non-surgical procedure. They know it's going to fail and then they tell her, "Now we're going to give this to you, but if it fails, you're going to have to pay us for a surgical abortion."

Dr. W: And totally unregulated.

Eric: Dr. Willke, Abortion is totally unregulated! Anybody can open up an abortion clinic. Almost any doctor can work there, even anesthesiologists. A psychiatrist can do an abortion because he or she has MD or DO after their name.

Brad: Did you have experiences in your clinics with chemical abortions?

Eric: Oh, yes. We were one of the first ones in the country to do it. And, actually, it got to the point where we'd say, "You come in, sweetheart. You don't like needles? That's okay, we'll fix you up on Methotrexate in a glass of orange juice and it works in the exact same way."

Dr. W: How about the RU 486? Were you in on any of those trials?

Eric: No, I was never in on any of those trials because I didn't want to be because the FDA will regulate RU 486 very strictly.

Dr. W: You know there's a certain battle fatigue out there in Right-to-Life offices.

Eric: I understand that people are tired, but they need to get re-energized. They need to know that their efforts have made a difference. Unfortunately, they don't hear that enough.

Dr. W: The one thing that has really energized pro-lifers has been partial-birth abortion.

Eric: That has totally floored me! The American people also need to know, when they talk about abortion at 14, 15 or 16 weeks, you pull a baby apart to get it out. I have seen my fair share of D&X abortions done over the years. I started to see more abortions that were done on fetuses where the baby was born whole and was left there to die. With the advent of new medications to help in labor, there is not such a need to do the gruesome D&X abortions.

Brad: She essentially went into premature labor, is that what they did?

Eric: Exactly, yes. They would cause premature labor, she would be delivered and the fetus would be put aside to die. Brad: How do you think pro-lifers have fared in the public forum?

Eric: You know what the most hated commercial that the right-to-lifers ever put out was? It was "Life, What a Beautiful Choice". We hated that commercial. It even made me feel guilty, showing these beautiful babies.

Brad: Did you experience anything with Post-Abortion Syndrome?

Eric: Yes, it's rampant - and, actually, I had Post-Abortion Syndrome. That's why I became a cocaine addict. I hated putting babies in strainers and rinsing them off and putting them in zip-lock bags. I consider myself to be an abortion- survivor because I was on a fast track of dying because of it. Post-Abortion Syndrome is very prevalent - very, very prevalent.

Brad: So you saw it in women?

Eric: I saw it in women ten minutes after the abortion. I saw it in women a year after the abortion. They would call begging for help.

Brad: What was your response to them?

Eric: "You'll get over it, sweetie. Your hormones are going crazy right now. As soon as your hormones calm down, you'll be fine." That was the standard line that was given.

Dr. W: And, of course, it didn't mean a thing.

Eric: No, it didn't. But, you know, it bought you some time with them. It was implanted in their minds that there was nothing wrong with them. It was their hormones.

Dr. W: And they went away?

Eric: They went away, but at some point in time, they would usually re-surface again. In my clinic we had protocols for what to do when people threatened suicide. They would call six months after the abortion. They couldn't stand it anymore. They were going to kill themselves and you had to keep them on the line and then call a crisis mental center and get intervention.

Brad: So the abortion industry is aware of Post-Abortion Syndrome?

Eric: Yes, but they deny it.

Dr. W: How about effect on men?

Eric: What I did see was this little game that was played, where the men would come in with these girls and say, "Oh, honey, right now is not the right time to have the baby, but go ahead and have the abortion and we'll have another baby and get married soon." Then, as soon as the abortion was over with, he'd dump her. That happens constantly. And I would tell girls, "Don't you even think for a minute that he's going to be back when you're back here for your checkup, because he's going to be gone." "No, Eric, it's not like that. You don't understand him like I do." And then. a month later: "You were right, Eric. He left me."

Dr. W: Sweet-talk her into it and then leave her there.

Eric: Exactly. Leave her there. I've seen guys drop girls off at the abortion clinic, pay for the abortion, sit around and wait until they hear the suction machines start -- then they know it's over and they're gone. Won't even take her home! I've seen that more than I can remember. I've seen all kinds of things.

Dr. W: Eric, we really do thank you for your time and your straightforward answers. I encourage you to keep writing your book.


See our update on Mr Harrah.
Posted 6 Sep 2000.

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