A doctor in Colorado who performs abortions recently took out a full-page newspaper ad slamming anti-choice members of Congress for ongoing investigations into his practice and a senior adviser to Operation Rescue is furious that he called them out for their alliance with violent anti-choice extremists.
Hern is being “investigated” by the anti-abortion Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, chaired by Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The panel is dedicated to finding proof of the entirely fictitious claim that abortion clinics are selling fetal tissue, and they’ve set their sights on Hern. In turn, Hern warned that such targeting could lead to his assassination by an anti-abortion terrorist, as happened to his friend Dr. George Tiller in 2009.
Hern’s Denver Post ad is in fact a scalding open letter, addressed to Blackburn. He scolds her for using the word “abortionist” to refer to him, calling it “a vicious, despicable, anti-abortion propaganda term intended to slander the person to whom it is applied.” (That’s true: the term is intended to be disparaging and isn’t used by unbiased organizations or media outlets.) He calls the panel a “callous, delusional witch hunt” and tells Blackburn she is allying herself with what he calls a “terrorist movement:”
You and your Republican Party are vigorously allied with a violent terrorist movement that threatens the lives of women, their families and healthcare workers. As part of this sham “investigation,” your letter to me and letters to other physicians constitute a program of target identification for anti-abortion assassins. You can deny this, but it is a fact.
Nonetheless, Operation Rescue, the anti-abortion group, reprinted Hern’s Denver Post ad in full because they’re so furious about it. Cheryl Sullenger, the group’s senior policy advisor, wrote in a blog post that the ad is full of “wild conspiracy theories” and called it “crazy talk.” And she’s very excised about calling any anti-abortion activist a “terrorist:”
Hern’s warped perception of the work of a peaceful pro-life movement that sacrifices to aid pregnant women and provide loving alternatives to abortion – acts that he considers “terrorism” — reveals how much Hern is deceived by his own fears and prejudices.
This is all sort of ironic—not necessarily funny, per se, but ironic—given that Sullenger was convicted in 1988 with her husband of plotting to bomb an abortion clinic.
And Hern operates not far from the spot where almost exactly a year ago, Robert Lewis Dear went into a Planned Parenthood clinic and opened fire, killing two people and injuring nine more before being captured. And that’s just a tiny part of the larger problem of anti-choice terrorism. Since 1977 in this country alone there have been “17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.” It isn’t Hern’s perceptions that are warped here.