In A National Context
Warren M. Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Special Report prepared for JoAnn Harris, Director, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
Although this report deals specifically with events at
Boulder Abortion Clinic, my private medical practice, and focuses on a series
of specific events dating from
My purpose here is to present the facts as they have occurred or emerged rather than to make the connections.
As a copy of this document has been requested by the Civil Rights Division, I will include matters that pertain to civil rights issues as well as those that may be specifically pertinent to criminal law.
At the end of the report, I will give my own opinions about the significance of these events and patterns.
As a junior medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1964, I cared for numerous
women who were suffering the effects of illegal septic abortion. I had also been struck by the poignancy and
sadness of the women who were giving up babies for adoption. In a small hospital in the Peruvian Amazon, I
encountered tragedy due to self-induced and primitive abortions performed in
jungle towns. I later saw many of the
same situations while working as a Peace Corps physician in
My own public involvement with issues concerning
reproductive freedom in general and abortion in particular began when I was
Chief, Program and Evaluation Branch, Family Planning Division, Office of
Health Affairs, Office of Economic Opportunity, in the Executive Office of the
In 1972, following my return to
Following the opening of Boulder Valley Clinic in November, 1973, I became the target of a wide variety of personal attacks by not only anti-abortion demonstrators but local physicians opposed to abortion. I began to receive many death threats at my home telephone and had to begin having an unlisted telephone number. I was followed on several occasions. I was asked to speak at public occasions and on television broadcasts to defend abortion rights, and I did so. These events intensified anti-abortion activities directed toward me personally.
At one point, I obtained a rifle and placed it near my bed at night. I was frequently apprehensive about returning home to my isolated mountain cabin at night.
At the end of 1974, my position of Medical Director at
Boulder Valley Clinic was officially abolished by the Board of Directors. I decided to resign my position there as
staff physician and found my own medical practice specializing in abortion
services. That office opened on
While verbal personal attacks on me continued in the newspaper and other news media, and I received some telephone threats, the location of my new office did not lend itself to anti-abortion demonstrations. These began to intensify after I purchased the building in which I am located in 1977 and took over the top floor with a front entrance on Alpine Street in 1979.
ANTI-ABORTION DEMONSTRATIONS, HARASSMENT,
FROM 1979 THROUGH DECEMBER, 1974
In 1979, organized anti-abortion demonstrations began to occur frequently at my office on Alpine Street. These demonstrations appeared to me to be peaceful, and while I noted that they severely affected the tranquility of patients coming in for services, the demonstrations did not appear or threaten to be physically violent. In fact, I would sometimes go out in my scrub suit, carrying a writing tablet, and try to collect the names of the demonstrators as a means of counter-harassment. One man's name was "Mary, Mother of God." I wrote it down.
One afternoon, following a demonstration, I noted that
the demonstrators had parked some of their cars in the parking lot adjacent to
my office and located between my office and the next building. I went out with notepad to write down the
license numbers of the cars. One of the
demonstrators attempted to run over me with his car. As I was running about 5 miles a day at the
time, I had the agility to escape this obvious attempt to kill me. I filed a report with the
We began to get telephone harassment, and I received occasional death threats. Following the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, there was a notable increase in the frequency, intensity, and virulence of the harassment and threats.
At one speaking engagement at the University of Colorado at Denver, a panel discussion with pro-choice and anti-choice speakers, I had to be taken out a back entrance because the anti-abortion activists in the audience came up to the front desk in large numbers following the program and several people, their faces twisted in hate, threatened my life at that time. It appeared at one point that they would come up over the desk after me.
In 1982, several television programs in the
In 1984, my textbook, Abortion Practice, was
published by JB Lippincott Company. While
it was a professional success in terms of acceptance by my colleagues and
positive reviews in the professional journals, it also angered the
anti-abortion movement. Lippincott
received hate mail and threats of boycotts, and the book was described in the
national Right-to Life Newsletter as "Nazi medicine." That year, Joe Scheidler told me to my face
that he was going to come to
Anti-abortion demonstrators sometimes appeared right at the back door of my office, which opened onto a main parking lot used by both patients and staff. Some were eventually arrested for these aggressive activities. On occasion, anti-abortion demonstrators would use the parking lots of adjacent physician's offices as vantage points for making videotapes of me, my staff, and patients.
In December, 1984, my first Op-Ed piece concerning anti-abortion violence appeared in the New York Times. In this article, I criticized the Reagan Administration encouragement of anti-abortion activities and criticized a statement by FBI Director William Webster that anti-abortion violence was not terrorism because "we don't know who's doing it."
Following publication of this article, NBC News came to
In the fall of 1985, the
Scheidler had announced that he would come to my office on
Monday, October 22, to "close" it.
We had placed plywood over the broken window, and the glass was to be
replaced on that day, Monday. Having
recently returned from a trip to
During that week, Scheidler made at least one more visit
to my office accompanied by a large group of demonstrators, and telephone
harassment became intense. The telephone
harassment took the form of phony calls, hang-ups, and jamming the phone
lines. At least part of the telephone
harassment was traced to a woman who was the wife of the man whose organization
invited Scheidler to come to
In the Boulder Right-To-Life Committee Newsletter, Scheidler was quoted as saying that I was an important target because I wrote "the book" used by abortion providers.
Half-way through the week, I began to received many death threats, sometimes several per night. Some of these were obscene, and some of them came in at times like .
It was my custom at this time to go for a run at in between morning and afternoon patients at a city park several blocks from my office. I began to assume that one day, I would be shot while running.
At one public meeting, which was attended by
anti-abortion members of the Boulder Valley Right To
Life Committee and the President of the Colorado Right To Life Committee, I
denounced the anti-abortion organizations and individuals for creating "an
atmosphere of violence and confrontation."
The CRTLC and its president, William Woodley, announced on
Scheidler came to lead demonstrations at my office on several other occasions from early December, 1985 through June, 1986. We have videotapes of some of these demonstrations.
At the time of these events, I was married. My wife and I often stayed in small sleeping quarters at the rear of my office. Anti-abortion activists discovered this and began having demonstrations at this site, usually on Saturday morning, the day when most of our procedures were scheduled. They would assemble at and begin singing, chanting my name, and waving signs. This activity continued for months. I received numerous harassing telephone calls, some of them placed through my answering service by means of giving fraudulent information to my answering service.
The harassment and death threats were extremely disturbing to my wife. These activities placed great strain on our marriage relationship. Although the harassment was not the only or even principal cause, it contributed significantly to the disintegration of our marriage in the fall of 1986 and subsequent divorce.
In the fall of 1986, the Boulder City Council passed a
"buffer-zone ordinance" designed to keep anti-abortion demonstrators
from harassing patients. It says that, when a demonstrator is within 100 feet
of a clinic entrance, he or she must stay at least 8 feet from an approaching
patient, but only if the patient puts up her hand and says "step back." Refusal to do so constitutes a violation of
the ordinance. Neither the City Council
nor the American Civil Liberties would support stronger legislation. The same measure was passed by the Denver
City Council, and a similar measure became a law for the State of
During this time, my clinic was picketed regularly for
weeks by an anti-abortion group from
In 1987 and 1988, we experienced numerous anti-abortion
demonstrations, some ringing the building, and the
During the first week of February, 1988, immediately following several anti-abortion statements on that day by President Reagan and Pat Robertson, there were five shots fired through the front windows of my waiting room by the front entrance. I had just walked through the area and had left the building. The lights were on and there were cars in the parking lot. One of my staff members was almost struck by two of the bullets after he heard the noise of the first three and went to investigate.
I held a press conference the next day on the front lawn of my office to denounce the shootings and offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. Police investigated the incident but no perpetrator has been found. I subse- quently installed bullet-proof windows at a cost of over $30,000. During this time, my building insurance was canceled. I later installed more bullet-proof windows in the rear of the office and steel code-operated doors leading to the operating rooms at additional expense.
From this point on, I expected each time I arrived at or left my office or home that I would be the target of an assassination attempt, and I realized that I could not protect myself from a serious attempt.
During this time, we experienced episodes of vandalism at my office such as slashed tires on various vehicles, especially cleaning people who were working late at night, but this also included the car of my own mother, who visited me briefly one day.
Several employees were followed to their places of recreation, and one woman staff member began receiving anti-abortion harassment on her new unlisted telephone in her new house within days after moving in.
One staff counselor had a dilapidated Subaru station
wagon identical to mine, and she parked it one day where I normally parked my
car. When she attempted to drive it
home, she had difficulty steering it.
Her husband found after her arrival at home that all the lug nuts had
been loosened on each wheel.
Fortunately, she lived in
On one occasion, a couple with a strongly desired
pregnancy came from a distant point in another state to have an abortion
because the woman was diabetic and the fetus was severely deformed. After reviewing her situation, I decided that
she was too far along in her pregnancy for me to help her. But she had forgotten her insulin, so I sent
her across the street to the hospital emergency room. Anti-abortion demonstrators followed the
couple to the hospital and tried to talk them out of having an abortion, and
they later tracked the couple to their hotel in
In April, 1989 and in October, 1989, hundreds of
Operation Rescue anti-abortion demonstrators came to
On that same day, having seen the Times editorial, Randall Terry went on National Christian Radio Broadcasting ("Live With Randall Terry") and, using Biblical language, essentially invited his followers to assassinate me. My name was specifically mentioned several times in connection with this invitation.
The text of Mr. Terry's comments follows:
(Terry, reading from the Bible)"'...victims. He lies in...wait to catch the helpless. He catches the helpless and draws them off in his net. And he says, 'Why does the wicked man revile God?' Why does he say to himself, 'He won't call me into account?' Arise, Lord lift up your hand, oh God! Do not forget the helpless. Break the arm of the wicked and evil man. Call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out." "And this particular verse just says 'Break his arm.' There's another one that says 'Shatter his teeth.' There's another one, there's more than one that say 'kill him,' 'Lord kill him.'" "So, I'm looking now at the..." "Wait a minute, wait a minute...If it says that in the Scripture, if it says that in the Scripture..." "...and it does say that in the Scripture." "All right." "Then it begs the question about Michael Griffin. What about Michael Griffin?"
(Terry) "God can kill someone [Gives methods by which God kills people]. I pray for calamity on the abortionists."
(Terry) "I didn't get to my point. There's an editorial in the New York Times today, the Op-Ed page today, 'The Pope and My Right To Life.' Warren Hern, who is an arch baby-killer, he has written a book on how to do second-trimester child-killing. He is a vulgar baby killer." "What's his name again?" "William Hern" "And I hope someday he is tried for crimes against humanity and I hope he is executed. When child killing is made illegal again. But in the meantime he is whining and crying because in 1989 or 1990 I was out in front of his abortion mill praying for God to either save his soul or judge him and to bring calamity on him. So he's going, The demonstrations were encouraged in July by Randall Terry the national leader of Operation Rescue. I last saw Mr. Terry in 1989 surrounded by followers praying for my death in front of my clinic.' "
(Terry) "Whining and carping. I make no bones about it, friends, it is a Biblical part of Christianity that we pray for either the conversion or the judgement of the enemies of God, especially mass murderers like William Hern."
(other speaker) "Well, God judges daily, the Psalm says"
(Terry) "I can't believe I can't find that one I'm lookin' for..."
On the following day, August 14, Rev. Trosch in
On the next day, August 15, the doctor who replaced Dr.
Gunn at the
The following week, on August 19, Shelly Shannon flew
During the months of these events, we received harassment at a new level of intensity.
Anti-abortion TV and radio talk show host Bob Enyart,
My first encounter with him was when he invited me to be on his radio talk show. Not knowing his reputation and ideology, I agreed to be interviewed briefly. I ended my participation after a few minutes when I discovered what was happening. But at about this point in 1993, Enyart published a pseudo-magazine printed in red and black ink filled with anti-abortion messages. The middle of the magazine was a two-page article, mostly about me, using some quotes from me on his program, with a banner headline across the two pages in red ink that read, "HOW WARREN HERN DOES HIS KILLING." When I showed this to a visiting psychologist in my office, I asked her, "What do you think that the author of this headline wants the reader to do after he or she read this?" "Kill you," she said.
[Received call from RMPP - Denver saying that Randall Terry on national Christian Radio Network inviting people to assassinate Dr. Warren Hern - we later received copy of Terry's comments but could not obtain tape of entire broadcast from local station or network -they refused]
[New York Times, article by Dirk Johnson, prints story which includes account of Randall Terry's comments inviting his listeners to assassinate Dr. Hern]
"What do you charge to have women have their own offspring murdered?"
[August 19, 1993 - Wichita: Dr. George Tiller shot in
both arms in assassination attempt by Shelly Shannon, anti-abortion activist of
#1 - young female Asked for Dr. Hern, said she was Amanda Tusing. When told he was unavailable & asked if she wanted to leave message, she said "Yes, tell him to fuck off."
#2 - female Felicia asked for Dr. Hern - same thing as above but left message to tell him "He's a fucking asshole." 3rd call the same
[July 30, 1994 - Dr. John Britton & escort
assassinated in Pensacola,
"Out For Justice" sign in back window
As you must be acutely aware, there is an underground network forming that is monstrously contagious. The objective: to stop the murderous medial and non-medical persons such as yourself blatantly interfering with the right to life of innocents in the womb.
What with the pro-choice feminist groups and their ilk, the evil government objectives and hidden agendas, certain Americans have decided that wee to can be pro-choice. Pro-choice enough to take out a number of you abortionist [sic] at the same time all around the country no matter where you are. You have been selected by a random poll and fit all the criteria needed to qualify for this event.
Careful to take note, bullet-proof vests are not enough to protect quilty [sic] murderers. There are other areas on the body that invite fatal wounds. Careful to take note as well no body guard can protect 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
You may ask by what right does anyone have to break a
legal law which protects abortion rights? The answer is so simple: UNJUST
AGRESSORS! This means YOU! Abortion is the unjust act, YOU are the
(signed, illegible) (first letters of names appear to be F.T.)
Original copy given to FBI agent William Clifford
At least 4 other MDs received as well.
Ron Kuseski & associates; Curtis Boyd
Dr. Kelly - Cleveland (non-NAF member)
Received another death threat in August, mock newspaper clipping announcing funeral of "Dr. Hern, notorious abortionist and baby-killer." (attached)
"I'm just saying a little prayer that all the people you do abortions for develop breast cancer."
Police report #P94-20451 Pam Aubry
Two protesters One man, one woman - both unknown 30 y/o carrying Cabbage-Patch doll Woman around late 30's, early 40's brown shoulder length hair one sign with fetus (look like actual baby's face) another sign "Hern Baby Killer"
On October 19 of this year, Joe Scheidler reappeared
with several men (Scheidler's last visit,
Yes! It's A Baby Abortion Kills Children Several fetus photos
What the picketers say is "Warren Hern, your days
are surely numbered. How many do you do
a day? 20 or 30 murders
a day? (repeat first sentence)" Vehicle
Brown Ford van Colo# EWC 3183 with cross and red painted baby stuck to
it. Other vehicle White Ford Festiva
Colo# SVC 720 .
We have videotapes.
Police responded at , summons issued to
Protesters say to patients and to staff member "Don't kill your baby." Also: "Abortion is murder."
"Fourteen years ago, I paid for an abortion. I cheated on my wife twice to get even with her."
"Those police officers can't save you,
"Those police officers can't escape death."
"How many days do you have left?"
"God's judgment of you is coming."
"It's too late for the doctors in
"God loves you enough to let you still be here to hear this message."
"God hasn't snuffed you out yet, Warren."
"The judgement, your judgement, is coming close."
"It's too late for Dr. Gunn. It's over for him."
"I don't believe in killing abortionists, but 'vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord."
"God loves you enough that He hasn't taken your life yet."
"No one knows the time and hour of a baby's birth or knows the time and hour of your last breath is."
"You won't have Michael Newell to defend you! How much longer before the Lord brings justice, because His law is above man's law. It's above Warren Hern."
Other comments about Michael Newell and Gary Jamieson ad nauseum
According to reports I have received, Kenneth Scott is an expert marksman capable of sniping beyond 300 yards, a survivalist, hunter, animal tracker, and expert woodsman. He also has an extensive criminal record which includes convictions for assault and stalking.
On the corner of Alpine and Broadway, just east of the
building next to my office,
Kenneth Scott is sentenced to 90 days in Denver County Jail for violating a court order to stay at least 300' away from the entrance of any abortion clinic. Part of the evidence available was the video tape from my office taken by me and my staff members.
Attached: Black & White mug shots from Denver PD of
Ronald Prinzi 19680426
Kenneth Scott 19490725
Mug shots, Denver PD:
Kenneth Tyler Scott, DOB
Clifton Dean Powell DOB
[Leon Gonzales is ex-convict, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault]
Attached photographs supplied by Michael Newell
Kenneth Scott's black Porsche Colo LN
Clifton Powell's yellow Dodge van ColoLN 08130XS
Bernadette Cordova 20 y/o carrying fetus poster
Kenneth Scott's red
Kenneth Scott's house with Ford Festiva Colo LN SVC720 parked in front of it
Kenneth Scott's Tan & beige pickup with row of five lights on top of roll bar, no License #, For Sale sign in back window
demonstration at RMPP clinic,
Same, taken from street side
Demonstration at RMPP clinic, gray-haired lady carrying sign, Abortion Kills Children, Leon Gonzalez standing to side taking notes
Photograph of 5-ton truck with large anti-abortion posters on sides and front, Ken Scott getting into vehicle
Photograph of Kenneth Scott's blue & silver pickup with rear seat, camper bed, Colo LN # 7433-ZB, Sign on the
back that says, "Plan Parenthood the #1 Baby Killer of the World"
Two photographs of Bernadette Cordovan in blood-spattered lab suit holding up a fetus doll and meat cleaver, outside RMPP clinic, Denver In background: Green van covered with posters, painted lettering on side that says, "Pro Life Action..." Phone "303...."
Other demonstrators present, holding up dolls and signs to persons in cars entering parking lot
Photograph of five-ton truck covered with anti-abortion
posters parked on street, man on top (appears to "
On the night of the
Summary and Discussion
The sidewalk in front of my clinic is only about 2 feet wide. When demonstrators are there, it is impossible to get by them without almost touching, and the demonstrators don't move. The patients are intimidated, even from a distance. We frequently have to reschedule people or have them come in the back entrance, which adds to their feeling of stigma and shame. We can't use our front entrance when the demonstrators are there. On the east side of the lot, there is a steel fence which I placed (at a cost of $15,000) to protect us from armed demonstrators entering the parking lot where I and the other physicians park. When a demonstrator stands by this fence, it is impossible to get by without stepping into the street. The demonstrators also stand by the steel gate which is opened by remote control, and we are fearful of being shot as we leave by this gate.
In a medical emergency, I need to go quickly out the front entrance of my office to cross the street to the physician's entrance to the hospital. I am afraid to do so if there are demonstrators there because I am afraid (in fact, sure) that I will be shot if I do so. This is a serious infringement on my activities that threatens patient care.
Because of the
The level of anti-abortion activity has long since
passed the situation of peaceful demonstrations of people expressing their
point of view. This is no longer about
free speech. It is about behavior that
is meant to inflict pain, terror, intimidation, and, in some cases, death. It is no longer tolerable to have any form of
political protest in front of my clinic or any other abortion facility in the
It must be recognized that anti-abortion demonstrators and fanatic followers are, with few exceptions, absolutely ruthless, unscrupulous, pitiless, and driven by hatred. They are willing to accept any level of violence not to mention social disruption and imposition of emotional pain to reach their goals.
No one says that anti-abortion demonstrators may not
express their point of view. What has
become intolerable is the intent to intimidate all those associated with
abortion services - patients, doctors, nurses, receptionists, mail carriers,
janitors, service delivery people, supply delivery people, passersby. Ideological issues aside, this is a
fundamental infringement of fundamental personal freedoms afforded by the
Constitution of the
in this regard and is confined to the pursuit and capture of those who willingly violate laws and who wish to die for their efforts.
Much of the encouragement to violence against physicians and others who provide abortions come from recognized religious leaders, who use the most violent language and harshest rhetoric possible, and who leave no doubt what consequences they want for those of us who do abortions.
Much of this hate rhetoric inciting to violence goes out over the nation's airwaves and is protected speech. This rhetoric has given powerful psychological permission to radical anti-abortion groups and individuals to step up their violent campaigns. Inevitably, someone with a rifle or shotgun hears a message from God that he must kill an abortion doctor or clinic worker for Christ.
A face-to-face conspiracy to commit political crimes is no longer necessary. All the leaders have to do is to use the airwaves to identify the targets. This is electronic fascism and terrorism.
The classic problem of democracy is that it grants great
liberty to those who hate freedom. The
anti-abortion movement, and especially its appropriation of legitimate
religious expression for sinister and basically seditious, terrorist purposes,
is testing our commitment to free speech to the limits. In fact, the use of free speech and freedom
of religion by anti-abortion demagogues is dangerous to the lives and liberty
of many peaceful
There is no deterrence at present for anti-abortion demonstrators since they do not respect either civil or criminal laws or basic assumptions of Western culture. There being no deterrence, civil authorities must recognize that the only protection at this point is self-defense, and many of us are prepared to shoot back. This is a prescription for civil war, which is what is happening, except that one side is still holding its fire.
Every anti-abortion demonstrator must now be considered
armed, dangerous and a potential assassin until proven otherwise. The anti-abortion movement must be
considered the source and spawning ground of a violent, terrorist movement
which threatens the social fabric and civil society of laws of the
Warren M. Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.