Boulder abortion provider calls on Obama to stand up against violence

(Photo/Jason Kosena)
(Photo/Jason Kosena)
One of the last remaining third-trimester abortion providers in the country wants President Barack Obama to do more than express shock and outrage at the killing Sunday of late-term abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kan.

Colorado physician Warren Hern, who has run the Boulder Abortion Clinic since 1975 and was a friend of Tiller’s, told National Public Radio he wants Obama to draw the line on anti-abortion violence in a national address and to declare to abortion foes, “We will stop you.”

“I think the president of the United States needs to go to a national television broadcast and say to the American public, ‘Safe abortion is a fundamental component of women’s health care. Anti-abortion terrorism and violence will not be tolerated. We will stop you,'” Hern told NPR reporter Kathy Lohr.

Listen to the NPR story “Abortion Providers on High Alert.”

On Sunday, Obama issued a statement condemning Tiller’s murder:

I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

Also Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal agents to step up security for physicians and clinics around the country and to “take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.”

Hern, who has been under increased protection by U.S. marshals since Tiller’s assassination, is one of only a handful of late-term abortion providers to advertise his services. Hern has been operating his clinic for decades under threat of violence, though he hasn’t attracted the attention of the anti-abortion movement the way Tiller did.

Tiller’s murder is the “absolutely inevitable consequence” of decades of anti-abortion fanaticism, Hern told The Colorado Independent.

“The anti-abortion movement message is, ‘Do what we tell you to do or we will kill you,’ and they do,” Hern added. “This is a fascist movement.”

Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northrup echoed Hern’s call for a strong public stand against anti-abortion violence.

“We need to hear from our officeholders, from doctors, from religious leaders, from the community,” Northup told NPR. “[W]e can’t stop the voices of those who will continue to vilify and demonize, but what we can do is we need to have more voices standing up for these doctors.”

Northrup also called on the federal government to restart a Justice Department task force that battled anti-abortion violence during the Clinton administration. The group plans to release a report later this week showing harassment against abortion providers is on the rise in six states studied, Northrup told NPR.

It’s a trend noted earlier this week by Cristina Page in a Huffington Post story. During the Clinton years, America saw a “five-fold increase in violence against abortion providers,” which ebbed markedly after the avowedly anti-abortion President George W. Bush took office, Page found. But with the pro-choice Obama in office, the trend has moved the other direction.

During the Clinton era, between 1994-2000 there were 6 abortion providers and clinic staff murdered, and 17 attempted murders of abortion providers. There were 12 bombings or arsons during the Clinton years.

During the Bush administration, not only were there no murders, there were no attempted murders. There was one clinic bombing during the Bush years. […]

In the last year of the Bush administration there were 396 harassing calls to abortion clinics. In just the first four months of the Obama administration that number has jumped to 1401.

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