One of my biggest pro-life heroes in Little Rock is my good friend Dr. Orman Simmons.

One of my biggest pro-life heroes in Little Rock is my good friend Dr. Orman Simmons.

Dr. Orman Winfield Simmons

An obstetrician/gynecologist whose faith guides his practice, Simmons says he has brought several thousand people into this world.

By Linda Haymes

This article was published June 23, 2013 at 2:55 a.m.

There has been one steadfast truth throughout Dr. Orman Simmons’ life. He has never wavered on what he was called to do in this world. Early on, even as a small child, he knew he wanted to become a physician.

“When I was 6 and living in North Little Rock, I had an injury on the top of my head that required an emergency visit to my primary care doctor,” he recalls. “He stapled it up and then sat me down and asked me, ‘Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?’

“I said, ‘Yes, I want to be a doctor like you,’ and I remember that he said, ‘Well, I hope you change your mind because it’s a hard life.’”

He didn’t. Change his mind, that is, and at 76, he’s continuing to practice at the successful Cornerstone Clinic for Women in west Little Rock that he co-founded with Dr. Doug Smith and which now features a staff of seven physicians and two obstetrics/gynecology nurse practitioners.

But Simmons, believed to be the oldest obstetrician still practicing in Arkansas, will quit delivering babies Friday, the 50th anniversary of when, as an intern, he began working as a obstetrician. He will, however, continue practice as a gynecologist.

All these decades and all these babies later — Simmons estimates he has delivered several thousand people — he has yet to become blase about the miracle of birth.

“Fifty years later it’s still a wonder to me how God does it, and to see the reaction of the family and the extended family. Dads who are having their fourth or fifth child, they’re crying, and the grandmothers are crying.”

NAMESAKE

Simmons’ childhood years were hardscrabble ones. Born to Henry and Dee Simmons, he spent his earliest years in a house with no electricity, an outhouse out back, a No. 3 washtub on the back porch, and water carried in from the pump in the yard.

Simmons says his father, who had only an eighth-grade education, worked hard to support the family.

Simmons was born in Cross County, and when he was 4, his father moved the family to North Little Rock and went to work at the munitions plant in Jacksonville. Eventually, he moved the family from near Washington Avenue into Levy, and later to the upper-middle-class Lakewood neighborhood on the money he brought home from the the plant. By example, he instilled in his son a strong work ethic so that at 14 “I went to work at the local movie theaters changing the marquees and then working the concession counter … and then I began working at Kroger when I was 16.”

He would continue working for Kroger while in high school, over summers and Christmas breaks while he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and even his first two years of medical school.

While in college, Simmons met future wife Marilyn at the Baptist Student Union. After they spent some time together as friends but before their first date, he asked her, “Will you marry me?”

“That’s not funny,” she responded.

“I’m not trying to be funny,” he replied.

It would be another two years before the couple married.

In 1962, as a student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Simmons delivered his first baby. It was under the aegis of the woman’s primary care doctor, who promised, “‘If you stay with the mom during the labor, I’ll let you deliver the baby.’”

As Simmons recalls, he was far more excited about the birth than was the mother, who already had 8 boys and 8 girls. Still, after the baby was born, she asked the young intern what his first name was and named her ninth son Orman.

A couple of years later, Simmons and his wife began a family of their own, and he delivered all three of his daughters — Amber, now 48; Vivian, now 46; and Calli, now 43 and a nurse in Simmons’ practice — and 16 of his grandchildren.

While serving two years as a physician in the Army, Simmons spent 11 months in Vietnam treating the wounded.

“It was life changing,” he says of the experience. “Afterward, I said that I’d seen so much blood, I’d never be afraid of blood again.”

BABIES, BABIES, BABIES

After his residency, Simmons was invited to join the practice of Dr. Bill Floyd in Little Rock.

“He was a wonderful teacher and practice companion,” Simmons recalls. “I learned so much from him, to be patient with people, and if they had a problem that was going to require surgery but it wasn’t an emergency, let them decide when they needed to have the surgery. He taught me that the mother you’re taking care of has other people at home — other children and a husband — and you don’t need to drive their decisions but instead just be a part of them.”

Through his years of practice, he has delivered a set of quadruplets from Morrilton, a few sets of triplets and even more sets of twins. He has delivered most of those babies at Baptist Health Medical Center near his current office, but has also delivered babies at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center. He served as chief of obstetrics at Baptist twice, once in the 1970s and again in 1983. He was appointed to the Arkansas State Medical Board by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee in 1999, serving through 2006.

“We used to listen to the baby with a fetoscope, an adaptation of a stethoscope,” he marvels. “Now we have ultrasound and electronic monitoring, which can measure the strength of the contractions.

“We can see if the water has broken, and even have a special instrument to break the water … and then there are all the drugs we have to start and stop labor. And the anesthesia we have is phenomenal.”

From his vantage point, it has been a golden era for obstetrics.

“I think I have practiced in the best era of medicine,” Simmons says. “It might get better in the future, but from where we’ve come from, it’s amazing.”

Only once, very briefly, did he have second thoughts about being a doctor. He thought about becoming a minister, but then, “I felt like I could also have a ministry in medicine — so I stayed with it and I feel like I have been able to reach others spiritually as well as medically.”

FAITH IN PRACTICE

In 1977, when a lot of obstetricians were choosing to quit delivering babies and focus their practices solely on gynecology, one of Simmons’ former medical school classmates, Dr. Doug Smith, then practicing in Fort Smith, moved to Little Rock and joined forces with him to establish a practice that would also include a ministry emphasis. They named the practice Cornerstone.

“I was not a Christian when I became a doctor, but after I became a Christian, I knew I had to make some difficult decisions on how I was going to handle my practice,” says Simmons, who currently is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.

“In college, neither of us were Christians,” Smith explains. “When we met up years later by chance at a medical conference in Mexico City, we discovered we’d both become believers and decided to join together to create a practice which would also include our religious faith.”

For patients who choose to do so, the physicians often pray with those in labor or going into surgery.

Smith says the pair’s goal was not to force their convictions upon others but instead to be able to offer spiritual guidance in addition to medical care, and keep their own faith in the forefront as a reminder to focus on treating their patients as they would want to be treated.

As a vocal opponent of abortion, Simmons has shared his beliefs, testifying before legislative committees and in the courtroom about his opposition to abortions, especially the procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

“I believe that life begins at the moment of conception and we don’t have the right to take that life,” he says, adding that he has been ridiculed for his beliefs.

What are his thoughts regarding the two state laws passed by the Arkansas Legislature this past session, one banning most abortions at or after the 12th week of pregnancy and the other banning them after the 20th week?

“I think it’s a move in the right direction to make some logical sense out of all the political and emotional morass that has engulfed this whole thing,” says Simmons, who was scheduled to testify one day during the recent session before the hearing was canceled.

He does enjoy traveling with his wife and up until last year was still snow-skiing, but otherwise he doesn’t really have any hobbies. He gave up golf during the Nixon administration.

Simmons credits his wife with being a constant and steady partner in his life.

“Back in medical school, when I told her I was going into obstetrics, a lot of women would have pitched a fit because of the long, demanding hours, but she didn’t,” Simmons says.

And while his profession cost him some lost time in the evenings and weekends with his daughters as they were growing up, the memories they do share from that time are precious.

“They’ve told me that some of their sweetest memories of me are the rare occasions when I was home in the mornings and would get them out of bed and sit and rock them by the fireplace before getting them dressed and ready for school,” Simmons says, growing emotional.

While he will soon stop delivering babies, he doesn’t have any plans to completely retire anytime soon.

“For my age, I have been blessed with incredibly good health and have an abundance of energy,” he says. “I don’t know what I’d do with a lot of free time. Maybe in four years, I’ll look at that question again and re-evaluate it then,” he says with a smile.

SELF PORTRAIT

Orman Simmons

DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH: June 20, 1937, Fair Oaks, Ark.

MY ROLE MODEL IN LIFE: My dad. He was honest to a fault and had a phenomenal work ethic.

WHEN I WAS A BOY, I WANTED TO GROW UP AND BE a doctor.

I WON’T EAT rutabaga.

MY FAVORITE MOVIE is Chariots of Fire.

THE GUESTS AT MY FANTASY DINNER PARTY: All of my family, my mom and my dad and my mother-in law and my father-in law

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW I am actually shy.

EXPERIENCING A BABY ENTERING THIS WORLD IS the most wonderful experience, for the family, extended family, and all the health-care workers involved.

I WANT MY CHILDREN TO REMEMBER how much I loved their mother and love them and appreciate all of the joy they’ve added to our lives.

ONE WORD TO SUM ME UP: Blessed

High Profile, Pages 33 on 06/23/2013

Print Headline: Dr. Orman Winfield Simmons

In the film series “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?” the arguments are presented  against abortion (Episode 1),  infanticide (Episode 2),   euthanasia (Episode 3), and then there is a discussion of the Christian versus Humanist worldview concerning the issue of “the basis for human dignity” in Episode 4 and then in the last episode a close look at the truth claims of the Bible.

Francis Schaeffer: How Should We Then Live? (Full-Length Documentary)

Francis Schaeffer Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION

Francis Schaeffer: What Ever Happened to the Human Race? (Full-Length Documentary)


Part 1 on abortion runs from 00:00 to 39:50, Part 2 on Infanticide runs from 39:50 to 1:21:30, Part 3 on Youth Euthanasia runs from 1:21:30 to 1:45:40, Part 4 on the basis of human dignity runs from 1:45:40 to 2:24:45 and Part 5 on the basis of truth runs from 2:24:45 to 3:00:04

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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