Howard W. Lindsey, MD

Active in Retirement

Howard Lindsey is a happy man. “My wife and I have eight children, and we are just so grateful that they all are doing great. We feel so lucky we sometimes have to pinch ourselves.” He laughs, “Eight children might not be what you’d expect from a pro-choice physician.”

After returning from a tour of duty as a battalion surgeon in Korea in 1951, Dr. Lindsey set up a family practice in San Mateo, California, that he continued for 37 years. When he retired in 1988, Lindsey moved to Nevada, where he is now coordinator of the advocacy group Nevada Physicians for Choice. Dr. Lindsey is still licensed to practice in California, and he remains active in the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well.

Dr. Lindsey learned to perform abortions during a rotating internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. “D&Cs were just part of the training at that time,” he says. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and did his pathology residency at Denver General Hospital.

In his practice, Dr. Lindsey provided first-trimester abortions for his patients. “It was an easy decision,” he says. “When you see a 14- or 15-year-old girl who’s pregnant, you can see the impact that’s going to have on her future. Having an abortion within a practice she was already a part of made it much easier for my patients.” Dr. Lindsey adds, “I also delivered babies pretty extensively during the first 15 years of my practice.”

Even in retirement, Dr. Lindsey has been an active proponent of choice. His editorial about the Stenberg v. Carhart Supreme Court case, titled “Abortion Law in Nebraska is Atrocious,” was published in the Reno Gazette Journal. “Generally, the response to my activism has been quite positive,” says Lindsey. “Doctors have to be willing to come out from under the bed,” he adds. “They are scared, and with good reason. The anti-choice movement has been so violent.”

Dr. Lindsey thinks that mifepristone will enable many more physicians to get involved with abortion services. “One of the beautiful things about mifepristone is that so many people who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—offer abortions before now can do so. Family doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants all can provide mifepristone,” says Lindsey. “I think things are really going to start to move in a better direction now.”