"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The procedure is gruesome, as anyone who has seen it, including Rashbaum, will attest. One of his former interns remembers watching Rashbaum do a D&E on well-developed twins one hot summer day. He intently leaned in closely and methodically pulled piece after piece of the fetuses out of the mother’s uterus, ignoring the attending staff’s whispers of horror — "It’s twins. It’s twins" — to each other. The intern reacted violently, running home, throwing up, and asking herself, "Is this right?" Rashbaum pisses people off with his cranky, despotic ways, but the other doctors are relieved he’s around to do a job they don’t want. "A person who is more concerned with what people think of him than of doing the right thing wouldn’t last," says a second-trimester-abortion provider who trained under Rashbaum. "He cares more about doing the right thing than what people think of his personality."
Husbands or boyfriends have been known to barge into his office and violently insist their baby not be aborted, to which Rashbaum replies with an equally violent, "Fuck you, Charlie, we can abort her." He won’t talk to them directly because, he explains, "I don’t treat men." But as Rashbaum talks privately to a patient about all the circumstances that brought her to him, he shows another side, one that can sympathetically navigate highly emotional waters. An unabashed atheist, Rashbaum nonetheless has compassion for the religious conflicts that arise when women are told by priests not to have abortions. Gratitude comes in the form of files that have grown thick over the years with thank-you notes and birth announcements. Small, elaborate, hastily scribbled, or formal, the letters have arrived in many forms but all echo a similar sentiment: thank you for helping us through the most difficult time in our lives. "He gets so involved," says Maria Rodriguez, his office manager of nearly 20 years. "He is always available. Always."