GROVE, Okla. - In 1953, a strapping 17-year-old broke away from the small-town life he had known to join the U.S. Navy, fulfilling a duty to which he said he felt called.
More than 50 years later, Hank "Buster" Henrie returned to the town of his youth to learn about a father he wanted to know better. His father, Dr. William Jennings Bryan Henrie, was Grove's only physician for many years. The doctor also operated an underground abortion clinic and performed 5,000 abortions over a 23-year period, according to a claim the doctor himself made at his 1962 trial.
This past week, Dr. Henrie's son sat down with two professors from Pennsylvania's Gettysburg College, Jennifer Hansen and Kristen Eyssell, who are filming a research documentary about the doctor's life, his practice and the impact he had on Grove.
"I learned that Dad was loved by the community," said the younger Henrie. "I didn't know the intensity of the love for my father, and I was surprised at the level of protection (against the law) he was given by the community."
You want to know what the difference between Grove 1956 and Grove 2006 is? In 1956 abortions were illegal, but you could get one from Dr. Henrie and no one thought much of it. .... In 1956 when abortion was illegal, you could count on getting a safe, compassionate one from your local doctor and not necessarily have to pay a dime.
What a swell guy!
But they're forgetting someone. There's one name you won't find in these hagiographic articles: Jolene Griffith.
On March 3, 1962, kindly Dr. Henrie, an osteopath, performed an abortion on Jolene Joyce Griffith at his clinic in Grove, Oklahoma. Jolene developed an infection, and, according to her survivors, Griffith abandoned her and provided no care to treat the infection.
On March 10, Jolene was admitted to a hospital in Tulsa. She died there on March 25, leaving behind a husband and three minor children.
Henire was conviced, and served 25 months of a 4-year sentence. Upon his release, he went right back to doing abortions.
Much to the applause of people who don't even care enough about Jolene Griffith to learn her name.
How is it that to the self-appointed champions of women's lives, the life of Jolene Griffith is beneath their notice?
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion
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