Dr. David Zbaraz depends most of his time delivering babies, but on those days when he performs an abortion, his wife can tell as soon as he walks in the door.
"I come home angry," he says. "It's a nasty dirty, yukky thing and I always come home angry . . .
"I've become very good at it. I've become one hell of an abortionist. But it's not something I tell my kids about."
His 13-year-old daughter found out by reading a Chicago newspaper. "Daddy," she asked, "do you do abortions? Isn't that killing people?"
Zbaraz doesn't think it is. But each time he does an abortion, it seems, he nevertheless confronts his own private war.
Dr. Zbaraz is an unlikely champion of the "pro-choice" argument for abortion, but he is now cast in that role.
The lawsuit is entitled Zbaraz et al vs. Quern and it is one of two important cases now before the Supreme Court that challenge restrictions placed on federal funding of abortions.
Dr. Zabaraz, notwithstanding his complicated feelings about abortion, is the lead plaintiff.
Four years ago, Congress first passed the Hyde Amendment, which cut off Medicaid money to pay for abortions. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court started the money flowing again while it decides how to rule on the Zbaraz case and an even broader case from New York.
The religious, moral and ethical questions that power the abortion controversy will not be resolved by the Supreme Court, any more than Dr. Zbaraz has been able to resolve them personally. Those original moral questions no longer are the legal issue.
The Hyde Amendment originated almost casually in September 1976, introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who recalls that Rep. Bob Bauman (R-Md.) suggested the idea one day when an appropriations bill containing "all sorts of money for abortions" was coming to the House floor.
Hyde remembers Bauman's question: "Wouldn't it be a nice idea if we could just sneak an amendment in there that would halt this nefarious practice?"
The impact, however, was immense and messy. After the congressional cutoff, dozens of states, including Illinois, followed with their own cutoff of state funds. It meant that abortions for poor women on welfare would no longer be paid for by public health funds.
Dr. Zbaraz spends most of his time with patients in his private practice and part of his time with poor patients at Michael Reese Hospital, a vast medical center in a neighborhood south of The Loop called "The Gap" by taxi drivers. Its griminess breaks the gleam of towering high-rises on either side, the way missing teeth break up a smile.
During his residency at Michael Reese, Zbaraz recalls seeing "one, two or three 13- or 14-year-old girls coming in every Saturday night with 104-degree temperatures and puss pouring out of their uteruses, victims of septic abortions. The infection would shoot through their bodies and cause shock or death. The kids would die or lose their uteruses."
That was before abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973. Following legalization, Chicago, along with other cities, began encountering problems with badly run abortion clinics that cropped up. Zbaraz felt those procedures should be performed properly in a hospital operating room.
At that time, he seriously considered doing no abortions at all. His primary mission was and is delivering babies, roughly 60 a month now. He does not like abortions.
"Have you ever seen one," he asked. "I don't care what anyone say, it is not a tonsillectomy, not just any old medical procedure. It's terminating a potential human life."
But Zbaraz and some colleagues at Michael Reese were concerned that the outside clinics might become the only choice for poor women. So they decided to establish their own clinic at Michael Reese.
"These patients were in need, and I was one hell of an abortionist," he repeated.
When the Hyde Amendment and Illinois' parallel law passed, Zbaraz was disturbed on two counts. "They outlawed abortions for poor women," he said. "That was the effect."
He saw a possible return to the Saturday nights of his residency -- "the carnage on the streets," as he calls those ugly scenes. And he saw hypocrisy in the Illinois legislature.
"I know for a fact, from personal experience," he said, "that some of these [anti-abortion] legislators want pregnancies terminated when their 16-year-old daughters get knocked up. I can't mention names, but I assure you, I know."
Zabaraz says that he agreed to join with several women lawyers who are patients and challenge the funds cutoff in court. Eventually, he was joined as a plaintiff by an unnamed Jane Doe -- an indigent Chicago woman who had sought to end her ninth pregnancy and was denied public aid.
After months of hearings, rulings and legal maneuvering, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady, on April 29, 1978, delivered an opinion in the case of Zbaraz et al v. Arthur F. Quern, who is director of Illinois' welfare agency.
"We hold that the Hyde Amendment and P.S. 80-1091 [the Illinois law] are unconstitutional as applied to medically necessary abortions prior to the point of fetal viability," Grady ruled.
"A woman's interest in her health so outweighs any possible state interest in the life of a non-viable fetus, that for a woman medically in need of an abortion, the state's interest is not legitimate."
It is difficult for the anti-abortion groups to fight these cases. Their position is based on fundamental opposition to abortion, a belief that it is murder and should be illegal.
But that moral question was decided for the nation and for the Federal judiciary by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. Short of a constitutional amendment, it will not be undone.
Lower court judges considering the funding cases start with that assumption. They do not have the opinion of overruling the highest court in the land.
After U.S. District Judge John Francis Dooling in New York also ruled against the funding restrictions in a decision in January, he told reporters: "I did it without any difficulty at all." "This doesn't have to do with what I think about abortion or what the church thinks about abortion," said the Roman Catholic judge. "It has to do with the validity in civil law of restrictions on the funding for abortion in light of decisions of the Supreme Court."
Assuming that a woman has the right to make the choice, the lower court judges ask, does a denial of money to pay for the abortions also deny that right?
If it does deny the right, does the government have a compelling interest in the furtherance of childbirth sufficient to justify the denial of a right?
Dooling gave his answers to these questions in a 642-page ruling on Jan. 15, accompaned by the order for funding to be resumed. Two weeks ago, when the Supreme Court accepted the New York and Illinois cases for consideration, it refused to stay Judge Dooling's order, so government funding of abortions has resumed, pending the final outcome.
Dooling's opinion, on which he labored for 13 months, is being hailed by pro-abortion activists as the most thorough ruling ever on the subject It invokes public opinion polls, public health statistics, election results, medical testimony and the Declaration on Abortion of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with the law. It is a learned treatise on the controversy, as well as a legal opinion.
Denying public money for abortion does deny the right to an abortion, Dooling ruled. Beyond that, it sets up a special class -- particularly pregnant teenage girls most affected by the funds cut off -- and discriminates against them.
Legislators can advance no "rational" compelling reason for such discrimination, he concluded, especially since their purpose was not the furterance of childbirth, but the prevention or reduction of abortion.
Dooling, however, rejected arguments that the Hyde Amendment and its successors were based on religious beliefs and therefore unconstitutional.
But he accepted the relatively novel argument that the Hyde Amendment interferes with the religious liberty of those whose religious sanctioned or at least did not forbid abortion.
The history of the Hyde Amendment is littered with anomalies, such as Dr. Zbaraz's conflicting feelings. For one thing, though designed to reduce significantly the nunber of abortions, the cutoff never did this.
It largely shifted the burden to states that chose to continue paying for them. Since most of the poor women seeking abortions live in states that continue to pay for them, the total number of financed abortions did not substantially decrease.
In addition, Henry Hyde long ago ceased to be a supporter of what is still called "The Hyde Amendment" After his original restrictive proposal -- which limited abortions to those necessary to save the mother's life -- Congress added other contingencies such as rape and incest, which Hyde considers too expansive.
"I'm battle weary," Hyde conceded. "But I'm saddened by the Supreme Court's action in upsetting the status quo.
"It raised some profound constitutional questions of who has the purse strings and appropriation power and whether Congress has the right to establish priorities for public funds."
Whichever way the Supreme Court decides the Zbaraz case and its companino, one outcome seems certain: the decision will not put an end to the national debate over abortion.