Sharon Hampton, 1969-1996

Sharon Hampton’s uterus was punctured during an abortion performed by Dr. Bruce Steir, but that did not stop Steir from sending Sharon home so he could catch a plane. Steir caught his plane, but Sharon, 27, never made it home — she died on the way, bleeding to death in her mother’s car.

The abortion was performed by Steir at A Lady’s Choice Women’s Medical Center in Moreno Valley, Calif., on Dec. 13, 1996. At the time of Sharon’s death, Steir was on probation with the state medical board. In fact, Steir had been on probation since 1988 when the Navy discovered that Steir was practicing medicine outside the naval medical facility where he worked.

This was not the only complaint levied against Steir. In 1991, he was accused of negligence after puncturing another woman’s uterus. A number of complaints were filed against Steir in the following years, and the state even tried to revoke his medical license. In 1995, the state filed a formal complaint alleging incompetence involving six abortions. Three of the women had to have hysterectomies after the abortions Steir performed. One woman had to undergo surgery to remove a fetal skull that tore through her uterus.

Steir was allowed to continue practicing medicine until he stood trial for these allegations in April 1997. However, after Sharon’s death, the state attorney general’s office sought a temporary restraining order to bar Steir from practicing. The court ruled that Steir could no longer perform surgeries, and he voluntarily gave up his medical license in March 1997.

Abortion-choice advocates unabashedly defended Steir: “He’s a wonderful doctor. He’s been performing abortion services for women since Roe v. Wade and providing services for us for 20 years,” said Shauna Heckert, executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Centers in Redding, Santa Rosa, Chico and Sacramento. “He really believes in a woman’s right to abortion and is very dedicated in his practice to helping women in their hour of need.”

Unfortunately, the family and friends of Sharon Hampton know where Steir was when Sharon was in her “hour of need” — catching a plane, on his way to perform his next abortion.

The San Francisco Chronicle, 10/24/97

 

Reprinted from The American Feminist, Summer 1998