Dr. Carhart, Under Threat from “Domestic Terrorist Network,” Abandoned by Federal Marshals

Despite mounting threats to the clinic–and potentially to the life–of Nebraska Dr. Leroy Carhart, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has removed the federal marshals earlier charged with protecting him.

Dr. Carhart lost his federal marshal protection two weeks ago,
much to the alarm of pro-choice leaders, leaving him vulnerable at a
time when anti-choice violence has been escalating across the country,
and when Carhart himself has been openly targeted by groups such as
Operation Rescue, which is calling for protests at his clinic later this month.  In addition, members of the Army of God, an organization that promotes
the use of violence against providers of abortion care, and glorifies
those who commit acts of murder, are also targetting Dr. Carhart. 

Women’s rights and health groups are now working strenuously to ensure that the DOJ restores protection by federal marshals for Dr. Carhart and to urge the DOJ and the FBI to investigate Tiller’s murder and other strategies used by these groups as part of a pattern of domestic terrorism.

Officials at the Department of Justice could not be reached for comment this weekend.  RH Reality Check will be following up with them on Monday, August 10th.

Dr. Carhart is a medical doctor who provides, among other services,
late abortion care to women whose lives and health are endangered by
their pregnancies, or whose fetuses have been determined to have
catastrophic anomalies incompatible with life.  He was a colleague of
Dr. Tiller’s, who was assassinated by violent anti-choice activist Scott Roeder in the lobby of his church on May
31st, 2009. 

In the days before Tiller’s murder, Roeder was in touch with an Operation Rescue staffer, Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue Senior Policy Advisor, whose number was found in his car, and who provided him
with information on the whereabouts of Dr. Tiller on various occasions.  The Army of God called Roeder an
"American Hero," stating George Tiller "reaped what he sowed and is now
in eternal hell." The Army of God website lauds other such "heroes" as Paul Hill (who
killed reproductive health physician Dr. John Britton and his volunteer escort in Florida in 1994, and who was executed by lethal
injection in 2003), and Eric Rudolph, who attributed his attacks on women’s clinics in Georgia and
Alabama in 1997 and 1998, and on an Atlanta nightclub in 1997 serving a lesbian clientele to "the legalization of abortion and ‘aberrant sexual behavior.’" Rudolph, who claimed the bombings in the name of the Army of God, has said he feels "no regret or remorse" for the killing of one person and the wounding of at least 11 others. Feminist Majority Foundation has documented these and other terrorist attacks against providers in a comprehensive document.

Alarm at Lack of Protection and Lack of Action by Gov’t Agencies

Reproductive health groups are "deeply alarmed" by the removal of U.S. Marshals from Dr. Carhart and several other providers across
the country over the past several weeks, especially so soon after the murder of Dr. Tiller and
during a time when violence against medical professionals and staffs of women’s health clinics is on the rise.  "We are working to restore marshal protection to Dr. Carhart right away," according to Kathy Spillar,
Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). 

Indeed, shortly after being arrested, Roeder himself told the AP that he anticipated further violence:

"I know there are many other similar events planned around the country
as long as abortion remains legal," Roeder said. When asked by the AP
what he meant and if he was referring to another shooting, he refused
to elaborate further

A number of groups, including FMF, the National Organization for
(NOW), and the National Abortion Federation (NAF), are also deeply concerned that the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have previously failed to take a comprehensive approach to investigating crimes like that committed by Roeder and others as part of a pattern of domestic terrorism. They are urging the FBI and the DOJ to broaden their investigations into the networks of extremist individuals and groups that
may have been involved in the murder and other acts of violence against
providers of abortion care.

"Make no mistake, these are domestic terrorists," says Spillar. 
"And we feel the DOJ and the FBI must treat
them as such.  The extremists’ activities go well beyond the actions of the lone individual and
can be linked to networks that show a clear pattern of illegal activity
leading to violence, murders, and deadly bombings, all of which is tied
to a political agenda. They have manuals, manifestos, and monikers similar to those used by terrorist groups.  And they have been linked to shootings, murders and deadly bombings.  If this is not the definition of ‘terrorist network,’ I don’t know what is."

Both violent rhetoric and violent threats are increasing.  For example, in her article for RH Reality Check, Come Together to Prevent My Murder, Jen Boulanger, Executive Director of the Allentown Women’s Clinic, wrote:

while the news crews that covered the Tiller murder have now packed up
and moved on, aggressive protesting in the weeks since the murder of
Dr. Tiller has escalated. My abortion provider colleagues from across
the country have noticed this alarming trend.  Since Dr. Tiller’s
murder, the threats and violent rhetoric have gotten much worse. On the
day of Dr. Tiller’s funeral, one of our volunteers was asked, “How do
you prefer to die, by knife or by bullet?” A week later, a protester
told me, “Abortionists were executed after World War II by the
Nuremburg Trials” and posed this rhetorical question, “You know what
Von Brunn did at the Holocaust Museum?”  This protester’s son, who has
picketed the clinic since he was a small child (he is now in his early
twenties), has made a point of mentioning ammonium nitrate, which is
used in making bombs, to us while protesting on several occasions.  

Carhart Targeted by Anti-Choice Radicals

The withdrawal of federal marshal protection from Dr. Carhart is
particularly perplexing in light of the direct targeting of Carhart by
Operation Rescue (OR), which is calling for protests outside
Dr. Carhart’s Nebraska clinic at the end of
August.  Carhart, one of a relatively small number of physicians who
provide late abortions, recently stated plans to open another clinic in Wichita, Kansas to provide services no longer available to women due to the
murder of Dr. Tiller, whose clinic was subsequently closed by his

"Operation Rescue is launching a campaign to keep the Wichita clinic
closed, and to close down Dr. Carhart’s clinic in Nebraska," said Marla
Patrick of Kansas NOW

The OR campaign includes several strategies, not all of which have been made fully public.

The most "benign" part of OR’s strategy is based on re-hashing old
lawsuits brought against Drs. Tiller and Carhart by anti-choice groups,
each of resulted in both physicians being found innocent of any
wrongdoing.  An OR press release states:

Last month…three pro-life groups sent a letter
along with a documentation packet to Nebraska Attorney General Jon
Buning asking for a comprehensive investigation in to Carhart’s
abortion business. 

"This is the same tactic of legal harassment used against Tiller," said
Spillar, "to tie Carhart up in court/administrative hearings, costing
substantial amounts of money and time for him and his staff.  And if
the AG is anything like [former Kansas Attorney General Phil]
Kline–a zealot with a substantial state budget to engage in the
harassment–it will be even worse." 

Spillar continues:

The OR leadership is quite adept at this harassment –
even filing administrative complaints against Tiller on the same issues
within days after he was aquitted in a court of law. The two grand
juries OR worked to convene through citizen petition  to investigate Dr. Tiller cost substantial
state funds and again were concluded with no findings of wrong doing. 
So the OR strategy is persistence …but with no basis for legal

"Again," states Spillar," this is a pattern."

Operation Rescue is also planning an "invitation-only" training session
for anti-choice advocates interested in blockading Dr. Carhart’s
clinic and has called on anti-choice advocates around the country to
converge on the Nebraska clinic at the end of August. 

"This is the first of two ambitious projects to be launched by
Operation Rescue this month," states the OR website. "The second
project promises to be the most
ambitious endeavor ever embarked upon by Operation Rescue."

According to Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue:

We have vast experience gained over years of legally and peacefully
closing abortion clinics around the nation and will be putting that
experience into practice in new and creative ways in the coming weeks
and months.

"I read this language as being ominous," said Patrick of Kansas Now.  She continues:

It is clear they are planning some serious antics. 
And given how close these people are to Roeder, I am deeply concerned
that neither local nor federal law enforcement officials appear to be
doing what they need to do.

Existing Laws Not Well Enforced

The "legality" of OR’s efforts is questionable at best. 
There are both federal and local laws on the books that make it illegal to interfere with or block access to clinics or to engage in any form of threat, harassment, or violence against clinic workers or clients.  Yet, pro-choice leaders at the state and national level underscore that these laws are constantly breached and according to many, are weakly enforced, if at all.

We have publicly made it very clear we don’t think they are doing enough at the local or federal level," stated Kansas NOW’s Patrick.  "It is not a matter of passing new laws.  We have the laws we need.  We just need to use them.  Law enforcement needs to use them."

"We have let these people boldly harass doctors and clinics unchallenged for so long, it appears that police have gotten use to it," said Patrick.  "But they have to use the tools we already have to put a stop to it."

In her article for RH Reality Check on this issue, Lindsay Beyerstein wrote that "The Justice
Department announced on June 5 that it was investigating whether
Tiller’s shooting violated any federal laws, including the Free Access
to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)
a bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 that makes it
a federal crime to harm or threaten an abortion provider, vandalize a
facility that provides abortions, or obstruct access to a reproductive
health clinic."

But according to some civil libertarians, some of these efforts are too little too late; they argue that more effective implementation of existing laws could have saved Dr. Tiller’s life.  

Before FACE, blockading a clinic was a minor offense under local laws, but FACE made interference with clinics or providers punishable by up to a year in jail for a first offense.  Beyerstein writes:

In the week before the shooting of Dr. Tiller, Roeder attempted to
obstruct access to a clinic by gluing its locks. Clinic vandalism is
also illegal and considered a federal crime under FACE. The manager of
a Kansas City abortion clinic told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
that he called the FBI a week before the shooting to report that Roeder
had been caught on tape vandalizing the clinic. According to the
manager, an FBI agent didn’t act, saying that the video was probably
too blurry to get a conviction and that the manger had contaminated the
DNA evidence by touching the lock. The manager said he went out and
bought a brand new color video camera. The day before the shooting he
called the FBI again to say that a nurse had caught Roeder in the act,
even copying down his license plate number: 225 BAB. The FBI still didn’t act. The next day, Roeder drove to the Reformation Lutheran Church and shot George Tiller in the face.

Now, as OR and other such groups gear up for what they claim will be dramatic actions aimed at Dr. Carhart’s clinic, state and national reproductive health and rights groups are calling on law enforcement officials to be proactive, and on advocates from across the country to help out at Carhart’s clinic in August.

"We are calling on pro-choice advocates to join us in providing peaceful clinic defense," said Patrick.  "But we also want them there as witnesses, as legal observers, to make sure that if laws are broken, this is documented, that local and federal law enforcement is made aware of what is going on, that they do their jobs, and that the word gets out because people need to understand this is domestic terrorism.  We want the world to see what is going on here."

Spillar agrees: "Law enforcement must be very proactive in ensuring
that demonstrators are not blocking clinics or stalking clinic workers,
not interfering with their work or women’s access to care, and
certainly not promoting or engaging in violence."

"We are putting the word out," continued Patrick, "to neighboring state partners in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska and also to women and men in the pro-choice community across the country, on Facebook, Twitter, and through other means."

A Facebook page can be found here and Kansan NOW’s website can be found here.

"After 8 long years in which violence plummeted because Bush was in the White House and anti-choice forces felt they had a friend in government, the political landscape has changed and the extreme wing of the anti-choice community has gone back into action."

"At the same time," Spillar continues, "the Department of Justice and the FBI did not have to do as much on this front and so lost momentum.  It was not a priority.  Now it has to be."

"This effort is organized, it is orchestrated, it is a pattern, and it is escalating," said Spillar, "and both the Administration and the relevant agencies need to do more and to pay attention….right now.  Unless these extremists are brought to justice we are just waiting for another doctor to be murdered."

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  • crowepps

    There seem to be enough federal marshals to provide 24 hour protection to mobsters who have turned state’s evidence and to judges who have gotten nasty letters. Too bad that less than a half dozen doctors who provide an absolutely vital service aren’t considered worth protecting.

  • invalid-0

    I spoke with an attorney at the DOJ a day or two before Marshal protection was removed. The DOJ and Marhals service were apparently not happy with the way Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart were making themselves targets in the media. From a civil rights perspective, the DOJ very much supported them speaking out. From a law enforcement perspective, they were appalled. The DOJ attorney was very conflicted, even unsettled, but the Marshals were putting their lives at too great a risk. Christian extremists also find an enemy in the government; many wish to start a revolution. The Marhsals were sitting ducks.

    Obviously, we can’t leave it at that and there needs to be a solution. Civilized society rests on it. The timing seems irresponsible, because Carhardt hasn’t seen the worst of it, but his mission to open another clinic in Kansas is also asking for violence. The root cause of this dilemma is our inability to effectively preempt attacks by addressing the issue as systematic terrorism. This is a clear-cut case where freedom (first amendment rights, personal safety and the future of women’s health in Kansas) is being held hostage to terrorism. It’s so clear cut the Marshals don’t want to be near ground zero when it happens.

    From what I understand, the FBI plays by different engagement rules when it comes to U.S. citizens involved in foreign/Islamic terrorism; the engagement rules for domestic terrorists are more restrictive– probably something that came about post-Ruby Ridge. There was a four- or five-letter process that had to be satisfied before action could be taken. When I asked the DOJ attorney whether that could be changed by a simple executive order, they replied that they didn’t know. To me, it sounds like DHS won’t engage them as terrorists because someone doesn’t have the bureaucratic or political will. Obama needs to address the issue now before it gets out of hand, and it can be done surgically enough not to threaten civil rights.

    If Christian extremists can threaten abortion providers to a point where there can be no discussion, society begins to unravel. The same extremists, once emboldened, can use the same tactics to advance their anti-gay and theocratic agendas.

    • invalid-0

      The Marshalls are always sitting ducks. It is their job! That’s what they do.

  • jodi-jacobson

    You raise some important issues. First, as you point out, Dr. Carhart and Dr. Hern are exercising their rights to speak to the media on an issue of personal safety, and also on the rights of women of access to legal medical care. They are not the lawbreakers; they are not the terrorists.  Every presidential candidate is out in the world engaging in the same form of speech and nonetheless has their secret security detail.  The very fact that federal marshal protection is required for someone means the marshals are also at risk….by definition.  That is just a reality.  While I have not yet spoken to the DOJ and intend to do so tomorrow, I do not see this as a valid reason or excuse.

    And with regard to this point:

    From what I understand, the FBI plays by different engagement rules
    when it comes to U.S. citizens involved in foreign/Islamic terrorism;
    the engagement rules for domestic terrorists are more restrictive–
    probably something that came about post-Ruby Ridge. There was a four-
    or five-letter process that had to be satisfied before action could be

    Honestly?  It did not seem to be a problem either in regard to the shooting of the security guard at the Holocaust museum in Washington–it occured on June 10th this year and that same day the FBI declared it was opening an investigation into the incident as one of "domestic terrorism."


    In another article for RH Reality Check, our colleague Lindsay Beyerstein wrote:

    The assassination of abortion provider George
    Tiller appears to meet the legal definition of domestic terrorism under
    the U.S. Criminal Code, yet the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has
    given no indication that it is considering charging his alleged
    assassin, Scott Roeder, with terrorism. Many
    in the pro-choice community wonder if the Justice Department would be
    so tentative if Roeder and his allies professed to be Muslims instead
    of Christians, yet many also are reluctant to see him labeled a
    domestic terrorist.

    The Justice
    Department announced on June 5 that it was investigating whether
    Tiller’s shooting violated any federal laws, including the Free Access
    to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)
    a bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 that makes it
    a federal crime to harm or threaten an abortion provider, vandalize a
    facility that provides abortions, or obstruct access to a reproductive
    health clinic. 

    Asked if the Justice Department had ruled out terrorism charges, DOJ
    spokesman Alejandro Miyar replied, "No, I wouldn’t say that we’re
    ruling out any federal charges." However, DOJ’s public pronouncements
    to date suggest that potential violations of FACE are the agency’s
    primary focus. In response to further queries from RH Reality Check, Miyar passed on a summary of the FACE Act and declined further comment.

    white supremacist James Von Brunn allegedly shot and killed a security
    guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum just days after Tiller’s
    slaying, Joseph Persichini,
    assistant director of the Washington field office of the U.S. Federal
    Bureau of Investigation (FBI), told the media that the guard’s murder
    was an act of domestic terrorism. Yet when RH Reality Check
    asked the FBI whether the Tiller shooting was domestic terrorism, FBI
    spokesperson Susan McKee replied, "The FBI is not in a position to
    comment on the status of this investigation."

    A month after Tiller was murdered, on July 1st, self-styled radical Islamist Corey Bledsoe shot two soldiers
    at a recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. He said he did it in
    the name of Allah. He was promptly charged under Arkansas law with
    murder and with engaging in a terrorist act.
    Yet, like Bledsoe, Roeder and the Army of God believe that their
    Christian god compels them to "defend the unborn" with violence.

    Prosecuting Roeder for domestic terrorism would signal that the
    government is "connecting the dots" on anti-choice extremism, terror
    and intimidation of legal medical services provided to women.

    There is a huge and dangerous double standard here.

    Thanks for writing.  Jodi




  • invalid-0

    So because these terrorists want to ignore the law and make abortion inaccessible, you find it the abortion doctor’s own fault for stepping in to fill in the gap? No, what you are saying is to let the terrorists win and that would leave Kansas with NO abortion provider for hundreds of miles. This has been the tactic in other states and now they HAVE no abortion providers.

    Kansas women deserve to have accessible reproductive choice, and I’m not about to let the terrorists win.

  • invalid-0

    OR is a terrorist organization. They have claimed that Randell Terry does not speak for OR anymore because of his statements that Dr. Tiller “reaped what he sowed”, but Troy Newman is just the same as him. OR is an organization that has been founded on hatred. OR continues to make completely false statements about Dr. Carhart. The way that I see it, they are trying to spark outrage among their little community of terrorists, so that they can see him dead, just as they did with Dr. Tiller. These people are not “pro-life”. They want to see abortion providers dead, and they want to see abortion illegal so they can see more women who have died in illegal abortion. These people are just anti-human, and anti-woman particularly.

  • invalid-0

    Anonymous wrote:

    “The DOJ attorney was very conflicted, even unsettled, but the Marshals were putting their lives at too great a risk. Christian extremists also find an enemy in the government; many wish to start a revolution. The Marshals were sitting ducks.”

    We’re in no way trivializing the threat posed to the doctors–and the Marshals as well–to point this out, but similar to what Jodi said above, describing the Marshals as “sitting ducks” in providing some protection for Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart, is in itself (we’ll assume unintentionally) trivializing the role of US Marshals. It’s worth elaborating on this a bit as it seems to not be an offhand colorful remark, but one of the central points made in Anonymous’ comment. As we may see themes like this repeated on other blogs — and as this is the first time we’ve seen it so far this cycle — it’s worth a bit of time to write a post ourselves in turn. If we see this line repeated elsewhere, we’ll be there, time permitting.

    Part of the job of US Marshals is protecting people who are targets of violence, from the President to participants in the Federal Witness Protection Program. US Marshals aren’t sitting ducks. Perhaps the people they are assigned to protect might in some cases be characterized as such, but not the Marshals. It seems absurd to suggest that the reason for whatever change in protection has occurred is due to some real threat against the US Marshalls. Maybe even ‘beyond absurd’, if there is such a thing, this almost achieves the myth-like status of misunderstanding some people experience from watching too many modern TV crime shows, a la the CSI effect. In decades of anti-abortion violence we are not aware of a single incident of violence attempted against US Marshall involved in clinic defense work. Surely there must have been threats to do so, but there isn’t any record we’ve been able to find in mainstream media reports which can easily be searched back over decades.

    That doesn’t mean that security or law enforcement hasn’t born risks to their life in protecting clinics and clinic employees, in particular of course two have lost their lives doing so, in the killing of Lt. Cnl. James Barrett, military veteran and bodyguard to Dr. Britton in Pensacola in 1994 and Birmingham police officer Robert Sanderson in a bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998. Countless police officers have endured threats and injuries simply by being present and arresting people in numerous clinic protests in the late 1980s and 1990s until that almost disappeared after passage of the 1994 Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act. Imagine using a torch to cut off a bicycle lock someone has used to chain themselves to another in a clinic protest, and then carry them off as dead weight without injuring them. Even with help from collegues many police officers injured themselves (but not the protestors) in doing so during many so-called ‘nonviolent’ clinic protests.

    Marshals assigned to protect doctors like Hern and Carhart are not going up against Al Qaeda or even the Red Army Faction, they’re going up against the likes of Scott Roeder and “Atomic Dog” James Kopp.

    Yes, there are OR-like groups behind terrorists like Roeder and Kopp that act in affinity who are well-organized and intellegent, but the people who carry out the violence — the criminals who the Marshals assigned to physically protect the doctors might go up against — are better described as obsessed losers in life who made relatively easily noticable turns towards extremism and violence before acting out to kill anyone.

    If the US Marshals are present at all — if they ever were present protecting Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart — they knew and know who their enemies are, their enemies do not know them. If one ever was personally threatened — like if their ‘cover was blown’ or felt otherwise personally targeted — it would be a pretty simple task to assign them elsewhere, and put someone else in their place.

  • http://youtube.com/StartLoving1 invalid-0

    WHAT DO WE DO TO GET THE MARSHALS BACK!?!?!?! Petition?????

  • invalid-0

    To clarify, the “sitting ducks” comment was an extrapolation of mine, not the DOJ’s words. This is perhaps an extreme assessment of the risk (the Marshall’s aren’t exactly defenseless); however, it was clear the Marhals felt vulnerable and were unhappy with the security situation. It’s also clear the Christian extremists hate the federal government, particularly with Obama at the helm. We did not discuss specific threats against the Marshals or federal government.

    It remains that the DOJ was very uncomfortable with the heightened risk of protecting doctors, particularly those who spoke with the media (Hern and Carhart). I’m sure this isn’t the whole story, but it is a critical part.

    Of course, I don’t think higher-risk should correlate to less protection. This sounds ridiculous to me. But we should also use this debate to solve the underlying security issue to prevent these attacks.

  • invalid-0

    The marshals are around to protect Dr Carhart. If they determine that the risk of a particular activity is too high, and he repeatedly does it anyway, he is hindering them in their job of protecting him. At some point, you have to draw a line. Either stop making your security risk higher, follow our instructions, and so on or we will not be able to effectively do our job. That puts our people at risk, and we will pull out.” I actually think that the DOJ is pretty reasonable with this. You can’t protect someone who won’t let you protect them, so you might as well keep your own people safe. I’d want to hear from Carhart himself about this, though, before really taking a strong stance.

  • jodi-jacobson

    I am very perplexed by the argument you are making.

    As the Southern Students group pointed out, federal marshals are there for the express purpose of protection of law abiding citizens under threat.  Dr. Carhart is a law-abiding citizen carrying out legal medical care.

    You write:

    however, it was clear the Marhals felt vulnerable and were unhappy with
    the security situation. It’s also clear the Christian extremists hate
    the federal government, particularly with Obama at the helm. We did not
    discuss specific threats against the Marshals or federal government. 


    Yes, they hate the government.  Yes they are there for the purpose of disrupting legal activity.  If anything, we have seen through the disruption of town hall meetings and the recent "birther" rhetoric an increasing tendency to violent and/or highly charged rhetoric and even action.  Violence broke out in a town hall meeting this week on health care for goodness’ sake.

    Because these people are ignorant, ill=able to engage in political discourse or unable or unwilling to recognize the law, does that mean that law enforcement says: "We’re too scared," and walks away?

    Doesn’t that mean the very goal of these people–to destroy democractic processes and legal activities–has been achieved?

    While I was not a proponent of the Iraq war, i sure don’t see any of the soldiers saying: "I don’t like how scary it is getting so i am going to leave….".  It is their job by definition.  The job of federal marshals is to protect people in danger.

    I simply can’t buy this argument.

    Best wishes, Jodi






    • invalid-0

      Jodi, we’re not going to try to second-guess an anonymous post regarding a call to the Department of Justice (or prove our movement cred by calling them ourselves for comment) but we’ll guess two things which probably will prove true on closer examination:

      1) US Marshalls may not have been ‘withdrawn’ from protecting Dr Hern and Dr Carhart, but their participation in providing protection may have changed. If so, it will be difficult to get information ‘on the record’ about it, and even if it were offered ‘off the record’ we’d not want to publicize it because it would seem to be just more encouragement for antis to target these doctors for harassment or violence.

      The rationale for the doctor(s) to make this information (or misinformation) known is another matter, the doctors (or whoever is advising them) may think it somehow provides them greater protection, or will result in pro-choice groups getting greater support to provide protection to Hern and Carhart.

      We think the latter may more likely be the case.

      2) If the DOJ and the US Marshalls are irritated at anything (besides the antis themselves) it’s not Hern and Carhart simply speaking to the press or to movement groups, it’s more likely sensationalistic coverage like an Esquire article online (and possibly being published in the current (September) issue, we’re not sure) titled “The Last Abortion Doctor”. It’s worth reading as it will undoubtably get wide circulation:


      …but we don’t like it for a number of reasons. Two reasons in particular (we really have better things to do than write critical, probably unpopular posts like this) are:

      a) The title, “The Last Abortion Doctor”. Only by a stretch of a figure of speech is Dr Hern the “Last Abortion Doctor”. It would be better to title an article “The Late-Term Abortion Doctor” because he specializes in late-term procedures, and isn’t necessairly the “last” abortion doctor. That’s an ominous choice of words, as well, “last”.

      b) The term “abortionist” is used in the article THIRTY-ONE TIMES. And not from the mouth of an anti quoted for ‘balance’ either. To the article’s credit it does quote Hern as saying he hates that term. But think about how it would have made more sense to — maybe — use the term once and refer to him after that by the honorific he earned and deserves.

      Namely, “Doctor”.

      It’s hard to write articles like this for popular publications without using some sort of dramatic phrasing and imagery, but we long ago grew tired of this sort of posturing. It’s hard though to blame Esquire for running a piece like that, how many references did we read anyway in the feminist/pro-choice activist press after the shooting of Dr Tiller about the more common second-trimester procedures and the women who get them, the not-so-late-term procedures and the situations women are in that call for them to be done? Maybe it’s harder for the average person – including the mainstream of women and men commenting on the feminist blogs — to sympathize with them than the women who are in even more clearly desperate circumstances like the patients of Tiller, Hern, and Carhart, but while it takes more work to get sympathy for, say, a young woman who denies her pregnancy until she can’t anymore mid-term and bravely comes forward to get help — including possibly terminating her pregnancy, we think they deserve that sympathy.

      We haven’t heard of any young women dying or becoming seriously ill from self-inducing an abortion in recent years (botched attempts at illicit methotrexate/Cytotec-induced abortion not included, that occurs but is still uncommon among most young women outside of some relatively small ethnic communities), but there have been numerous examples in the last 10 years or so of young women, usually in high school, who carry pregnancies to term in more or less a state of denial, and then possibly committing infanticide immediately after birth.

      When these tragedies occur (and are discovered and an arrest made) they often get lurid media coverage and legal responses that may range from minimal punishment (which is probably most often appropriate, as the women rarely pose threats to anyone else, they are probably more vulnerable to attacks by others or by self-destructive behavior) or to excessive punishment, as we believe was the case for Teri Rhodes from Erie, Pennsylvania last year. Of course it’s hard to imagine Esquire devoting as much space to unsympathetic figures like these women, but it could do more good if they did so sympathetically, at least in the context of covering later-term abortion, as if those services were more accessable and the procedures (and the women who need them) less stigmatized, perhaps fewer women would go on in denial of their pregnancies and see help earlier, whether or not they eventually chose to terminate their pregnancies or carry them to term.

      But before we see something like that in Esquire we’ll probably first see it in a feminist blog – besides from our comments, anyway – but none made this connection during the cycle of coverage occurring after Dr. Tiller’s murder. Or after Teri Rhodes’ apparent act of infanticide and a trial that resulted in an excessive sentence. It shouldn’t take tragedies like that for these issues to get more attention, though.

      But back to the DOJ – what might be making them uneasy – if they are indeed uneasy — is not so much Hern and Carhart ‘speaking out’ at all as ways in which they might be seen in the media, like perhaps in articles like the Esquire piece, which eerily — to us — resembles one published by GQ magazine back in Feburary 1994, titled (ironically, compared to the Esquire article’s content) “The Abortionist”. This article and a Donahue TV talk show around that time which was cited by some mainstream media commentators after Dr. Britton’s killing in late July 1994 as verging on being inciteful for the attention they gave to antis like Paul Hill (who killed Dr. Britton).

      We don’t know if GQ and Donahue had focused more attention on the women who needed to go to clinics and the situations they are in than on the doctors themselves and the nuts who want to kill them if Dr. Britton would be alive today, but it’s reasonable to say that the reproductive health care needs of women (and men who care about them) would have been better served if they had done so.

      We believe there’s lessons still there to be learned by Esquire, and numerous liberal cable and internet commentators, and feminist / pro-choice bloggers.

      It should’d take a DOJ memo to educate them on it, though.

  • jodi-jacobson
  • invalid-0

    I’m not really making an argument of my own. I’m simply airing the concerns of the DOJ. These were their concerns. The Marshals were unhappy with the security situation. They would have preferred Dr. Carhart and Dr. Hern not talk to the media. Very undemocratic, I know, but from the Marshals perspective it was a major security concern. Perhaps Carhart was given an ultimatum; I don’t know.

    I bring up the anti-government stuff as a way to explain why these guys won’t shoot or bomb around the Marshals. I’m entertaining plausible reasons as to why the Marshals service should think someone wouldn’t respect their presence. This part is somewhat opinionated.

    I agree with much of what you are saying, especially as it relates to the destruction of democratic processes. If the Marshals can protect the Pope, they can protect Dr. Carhart. But voicing my opinion isn’t the real goal here. I’m presenting information and observation.

    • crowepps

      I’m sorry, anonymous, but I really think it would be best if the perspective of the Department of Justice and Marshal’s was supplied directly by their own public statements.  Your understanding of what was said by one person in a conversation cannot be extrapolated to general policy.


      Certainly it would be easier to protect the doctors if they didn’t talk to the media.  It would be even easier if the doctors became podiatrists or outright retired.  Just like it would be really easy to protect presidential candidates if only universally popular people were allowed to run.


      Personally, I find it astounding that any government functionary but especially an ATTORNEY would make a statement over the phone that they had withdrawn protection from someone because the person makes public statements on a controversial political position and therefore it isn’t worth the Marshal’s time and effort to attempt to keep them alive.  Isn’t that a pretty clear case of ‘letting the terrorists win’?

  • jodi-jacobson

    and likewise arguing on my end against the general points, not attributing to you.



  • invalid-0

    Obviously federal, state, and local law enforcement are no longer up to the task of protecting and serving, of enforcing the law. The same could be said of the entire judicial branch. Perhaps it is time to face the cold hard facts.

  • invalid-0

    You’re right, I only have part of the story, and it’s a part I hesitated to bring up out of fairness for the agencies involved. However, I don’t think what I heard was going to be discussed publicly without some encouragement, and it is something critically important for the public to discuss. It strikes at the core of what America is all about. Should an American have to choose between protected speech and personal safety? Should the Marshals service be able to set limits to the risks they take by limiting the behaviors (including speech) of those they protect? When these two statements come into conflict, how do we resolve the problem?

    It demonstrates how extremists (and sympathizers in the media) can destroy America by freezing its democratic processes trough hate speech, harrassment, threats, and the next logical step: violence. It demonstrates the importance of taking the issue more seriously in Washington, and in the media. There should be broader recognition that vilifying a group of society, which has been targeted for violence in the past, is beyond irresponsible. It feeds terrorism and it is anti-American. Ultimately, this is larger than the abortion issue.

    You should be upset that an American should have to choose safety over speech, or safety over the freedom to provide healthcare services in Kansas. I don’t know if the Marshals service is the correct target for that anger, however. They think in tactical and pragmatic terms. Our efforts need to address the root-cause of the problem. Some of these mechanisms are already in place, and Obama needs to make them a higher priority.

    At the very least, the administration must take a more aggressive stance on FACE. There must be better coordination with local law enforcement. Law enforcement = prevention = lower risk. Obama must grant the executive orders necessary for the FBI/DOJ to more effectively investigate/prosecute anti-abortion threats and violence as terrorism. The Roeders and Shelley Shannons of the world should be in Federal CMU’s, not county jails.

    The security vs. democratic participation trade-off is such a critical public issue. In America, there should never be such a trade-off. The constitution is supposed to prevent that from happening.

  • colleen

    Should an American have to choose between protected speech and personal safety?

    This is a false dilemma; it is spin and poorly constructed spin at that. The marshall’s service (and anyone else involved in law enforcement) place themselves in harm’s way all the time. It’s part of the job description. The marshal’s service does what they are told. This was a Justice department decision and it was politically motivated.

    The problem is that since Bush was elected the feds have refused to enforce laws created to discourage and contain clinic violence and have otherwise treated the anti-abortion/contraception movement with an absurd amount of deference. Take Ms Sullenberger, a convicted felon whose ignorant person is presently employed as a “Senior Policy Advisor” for Operation Rescue. Ms Sullenberger, whose name and phone number was found in the windshield of Roemer’s vehicle when he was arrested, did three years for plotting to bomb a women’s clinic. Allowing this woman to work for OR is no different than allowing a pedophile to run a day care or an alcoholic convicted of vehicular manslaughter to drink and drive.
    Allowing Mr Roemer audiences with every scum sucking anti-abortion terrorist in the country is outrageous.
    The problem is that law enforcement and the justice department thinks it can pick and choose which laws to enforce and which sectors of society are worthy of protection.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    You make a good point about Sullenberger/OR and pedophile/daycare. And also about a double-standard in law enforcement.

    What is the solution?

    To me, the first point is something that requires tighter legislation. The second is something that requires Obama to clean out the internal policies or patterns of behavior that are relics of the last administration. How do you compel him to act, NOW? Does he know there is a serious problem?

  • ptb


    I’m the anon from above. Curious to know what came of your follow-up. Were you able to reach out to the DOJ or speak more in depth with Dr. Carhart about the circumstances surrounding the DOJ decision?

    If not, and you feel this is issue is still important for the public to discuss, let’s talk offline and I can provide you some information I wasn’t willing to provide publicly.