Fred Mecklenburg

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Fred Emil Mecklenburg (born 1935)[1] is an American obstetrician-gynecologist who has been active in opposition to legal abortion. He was a founder of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, American Citizens Concerned for Life, and chairman of the National Right to Life Committee from 1973 to 1975.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Mecklenburg grew up in Minnesota. His wife, Marjory Mecklenburg grew up in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and they were high school debating partners before marriage.[3] He and his wife have four children, one of whom is Karl Mecklenburg, a former American football player for the Denver Broncos.[4]

Mecklenburg attended University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957 and an additional degree in 1958. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1960 and was certified in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1968.[5] His residency was interrupted when he served for two years in the United States Army Medical Corps. He served as Director of Family Planning Programs, at University of Minnesota at a time when they opened a clinic off campus for married and unmarried students seeking family planning services.[6]

He had a practice in Edina, Minnesota until relocating to the Washington, D. C. area in 1981, when his wife was appointed by Ronald Reagan to Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She had previously served on an advisory panel for the Office of Technology Assessment investigating fertility planning technologies.[7] She later became Director of the Office of Population Affairs where she served until 1985.[8][9]

Mecklenburg held an OB/GYN position with Kaiser Permanente in Reston, Virginia in the 1980s. Mecklenburg later joined the Inova Fairfax Women’s Center in Virginia, and he is currently Chairman of the OB/GYN department.[5][10]

Opposition to abortion[edit]

Mecklenburg and his wife became involved in the opposition to legal abortion in 1967.[11] Mecklenburg served as president of the pro-life organization Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, and his wife succeeded him in that position. Mecklenburg was a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and urged the antiabortion movement not to object to family planning.[12]

In 1972, he authored a book chapter, "The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician's Perspective", which argued in part that pregnancy from rape "is extremely rare."[13] The chapter appeared in a book titled Abortion and Social Justice, written in response to arguments before the Supreme Court regarding legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade. Mecklenburg added that a woman exposed to the trauma of rape “will not ovulate even if she is 'scheduled' to."[14] Mecklenburg said researchers in Nazi death camps observed this effect by "selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what the effect this had on their ovulatory patterns. An extremely high percentage of these women did not ovulate."[14] Journalist Blythe Bernhard stated, "That article has influenced two generations of anti-abortion activists with the hope to build a medical case to ban all abortions without any exception."[15]

In 1975, Mecklenberg testified as an expert witness in a manslaughter prosecution against a Boston obstetrician, and criticized the abortion procedure used by the defendant.[16]

In the 1980s, Marjory Mecklenburg served as president of the National Right to Life Committee.[14][17]

In 1988, Pennsylvania state Republican representative Stephen Freind, claiming to rely on Mecklenburg, publicly argued that rape prevents pregnancy with the odds of pregnancy being “one in millions and millions and millions.”[18][19] Mecklenberg responded in a prepared statement that he regretted his opinions were used to support Freind's position.[20] In 2012, Mecklenburg's 1972 article was mentioned as a possible source for similar comments made by U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin.[14]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Lucas EW Jr, Branton P, Mecklenburg FE, Moawad GN (2009). Ectopic breast fibroadenoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Aug;114(2 Pt 2):460-2. PMID 19622961
  • Khoury AN, Zhou QP, Gorenberg DM, Nies BM, Manley GE, Mecklenburg FE. J Matern Fetal Med. 2001 Jun;10(3):186-92. A comparison of intermittent vaginal administration of two different doses of misoprostol suppositories with continuous dinoprostone for cervical ripening and labor induction. PMID 11444788
  • Park CH, Ruprai D, Vandel NM, Hixon DL, Mecklenburg FE (1996). Rapid detection of group B streptococcal antigen from vaginal specimens using a new Optical ImmunoAssay technique. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 1996 Mar;24(3):125-8. PMID 8724397
  • Mecklenburg FE (1973). Pregnancy: an adolescent crisis. Minn Med. 1973 Feb;56(2):101-4. PMID 4686201


  1. ^ Smith, Joe T. (1968). American directory of obstetricians and gynecologists: Volume 8.
  2. ^ Morgan, Lynn Marie; Michaels, Meredith W. (1999). Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions. University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 9780812216899
  3. ^ Thibodeau, Lynn (1977). The Happy Housewife. Carillon Books, ISBN 9780893100506
  5. ^ a b Faculty: Fred E. Mecklenburg, M.D., A.B.O.G., F.A.C.O.G., VCU School of Medicine website, Retrieved 22 August 2012
  6. ^ Associated Press (November 3, 1969). Family Clinic Opens On Campus. via Gettysburg Times
  7. ^ United States Office of Technology Assessment (1981). World population and fertility planning technologies : the next 20 years. DIANE, ISBN 9781428924338
  8. ^ Glaser, Vera (8 August 1981). Teen-Age Pregnancy: Reagan Health Aide Says Teens Should Learn to Say No, Evening Independent
  9. ^ Anderson, Jack and Joseph Spear (26 August 1987). U.S. paid for mom's trips, Ellensburg Daily Record
  10. ^ (9 March 2000). At Hospitals, Babies are Big Business, The Washington Post ("Fred E. Mecklenburg, who came to Inova Fairfax in 1981...")
  11. ^ (May 16, 1993). Driven to extremes. St. Paul Pioneer Press
  12. ^ Critchlow, Donald T. (2001). Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America. Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195145939
  13. ^ Mecklenburg, Fred E. (1972). The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician's Perspective. In Abortion and Social Justice, Thomas Hilgers and Dennis Horan, eds., p. 50. Sheed & Ward, ISBN 9780836205428
  14. ^ a b c d Townsend, Tim (August 21, 2012). "Akin appears to have picked up conclusions from 1972 article now hotly disputed". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  15. ^ Bernhard, Blythe (August 22, 2012). The roots of Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate” rape remarks. Washington Post
  16. ^ Mydans, Seth (22 January 1975). Abortion Case May Be Dismissed, The Telegraph (Nashua) (Associated Press story)
  17. ^ Associated Press (February 27, 1985). Resignation of Population Official Ends Expense Account Probe.
  18. ^ Kliff, Sarah (August 20, 2012). "Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about rape and pregnancy, but he’s not alone". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  19. ^ "Freind admits he erred, exaggerated on rapes". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 30, 1988. 
  20. ^ Wolf, Don (2 April 1988). Freind deserted in abortion stand, Pittsburgh Press

External links[edit]