Late-term abortion doctor decries Tiller killing: ‘This is a fascist movement’

Hours after the Sunday morning shooting death of late-term abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kan., a Boulder physician — who says he could be the only doctor in the world still performing the procedure — said Tiller’s assassination was the “absolutely inevitable consequence” of decades of anti-abortion fanaticism.

“I’m profoundly sad and I’m furious and I think the American people need to understand that we have a fascist movement in this country,” Dr. Warren Hern told The Colorado Independent on Sunday. “We don’t have to invade Iraq to find terrorists. They’re right here killing abortion doctors.”

“Every doctor that does abortions has been under an assassination threat for decades,” Hern said. “The anti-abortion movement message is, ‘Do what we tell you to do or we will kill you,’ and they do. This is a fascist movement.”

Hern laid blame for Tiller’s death at the feet of the anti-abortion movement’s encouragement of violence against abortion providers and the Republican Party’s “exploitation” of the extremist rhetoric.

“Dr. Tiller is dead by an anti-abortion assassin, and this is the absolutely inevitable consequence of 35 years of anti-abortion fanatic rhetoric and intimidation and assassination violence and exploitation by the Republican Party of this movement,” Hern told the Independent.

Hern, who described Tiller as “a good friend of mine,” said he doesn’t “know of any other doctors in the world doing late abortions like I am.” The Boulder Abortion Clinic, run by Hern since he founded the practice in 1975, has as its motto “Specializing in Late Abortions for Fetal Disorders”.

Hern declined to say whether he planned any changes to his security precautions after the killing of Tiller, who was shot to death while ushering at his Lutheran church.

Noting that Tiller is the “fifth American doctor to be assassinated,” Hern told the Los Angeles Times he’s well aware of the dangers. “I get messages from these people saying, ‘Don’t bother wearing a bulletproof vest, we’re going for a head shot.’ ”

A statement on the Boulder Abortion Clinic’s Web site addresses Hern’s concerns about safety for the clinic’s patients:

By its name and continued existence, Boulder Abortion Clinic makes a statement that women are free to make their own choices about their own lives, bodies, and family needs. I have been personally involved from the beginning of my medical career in advocacy of reproductive freedom, and I continue in this commitment. We have survived anti-abortion harassment and violence and shown our determination to provide these services in spite of everything. As a result, our patients are protected by the highest standards of safety and security when they come to my office.

CLARIFICATION: The notion that Dr. Warren Hern is the last remaining late-abortion provider in America is not accurate, according to reproductive health experts. While there are few physicians who advertise the rare service as Dr. Hern does, third-trimester abortions are available in many parts of the country, by physician referral, to women experiencing serious, life-threatening medical conditions and in the event of a stillborn or gravely ill baby. – Ed.

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Ernest Luning

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