Roundup: More Anti-Abortion “Activist” Trials and an Interview With Dr. Hern


Last week, we had an election.  But we also had the man who threatened late-term abortion provider Dr. Warren Hern and his family get off with five years probation.  And the man who conspired to bomb abortion clinics in North Carolina by providing how to’s on making homemade explosives pled guilty.

Now, the creator of the “Wanted” abortion providers posters is having his day in court, too.

Via NPR:

In North Carolina on Monday, anti-abortion activist Flip Benham, who is charged with stalking and violating a new state law against residential picketing, goes to court.

He and his group, Operation Save America, put up Old West-style “wanted” posters targeting doctors who perform abortions. The group calls it free speech. Abortion rights activists say it’s a threat.

Targeted Picketing

Benham is a longtime anti-abortion activist. The posters he distributed earlier this year included the names, addresses and photos of four Charlotte, N.C., doctors who perform abortions.

Benham and his group took the posters to the doctors’ offices and to their neighborhoods. They placed the posters on cars and tacked them up on doors.

Detective Milton Harris with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department says this violated the state’s new law against targeting an individual at his home.

“By them handing out the flyers with doctors’ photos on it, it was an indication to us that they were actually singling those doctors out within that residential neighborhood to protest,” Harris says.

He also says that this is the first prosecution under the new law.

“The purpose of the law is to protect that person’s identity against basically a lone-wolf assailant coming in there and possibly doing harm to that individual or that family,” Harris says.

As would surprise no one, the anti-abortion supporters are claiming that the media is out to get them, and that the posters are really quite innocent.  The conservative group Media Research Center commented on a CBS story about the posters, saying:

Miller then portrayed the pro-life group behind the posters as menacing: “Those responsible for the flyers – Operation Save America – repeatedly protest abortions at women’s health clinics in the Charlotte area, claiming the doctors harm women and kill babies. They list specific addresses and urge people to contact doctors there. One poster even cites a home address.” The unidentified doctor proclaimed: “These wanted posters are a call for my murder.”

Attempting to draw a connection between the flyers and past murders of abortion doctors, Miller pointed out: “In the 1990s, similar flyers were distributed in other cities. Then came the murders. In 1993, Pensacola Dr. David Gunn and Dr. George Patterson in Alabama. Dr. John Britton was gunned down a year later in Florida. All were targets of the wanted poster campaign.” A sound bite followed from Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the left-wing pro-abortion group Feminist Majority Foundation: “We know what the pattern has been year after year. Wanted poster, murder. Wanted poster, murder. We need tough prosecution before more doctors are murdered.”

Miller did provide some time to Operation Save America founder Flip Benham, but only to level accusations against him: “So do you think these incite violence?”

Near the end of the story, Miller went back to the anonymous doctor, replaying an earlier sound bit of him claiming “The posters are meant to call for my murder.” Miller asserted: “They’re just putting out the bait.” The doctor replied: “They’re putting out the bait, they’re putting out the call, and hoping somebody will respond.” Miller concluded: “Women’s rights groups have called for the Justice Department to investigate the posters, fearing history could repeat itself.”

Do abortion doctors have nothing to fear from these obvious targets on their backs?  Time Magazine interviewed Dr. Hern, who was nothing if not blunt about those who terrorize and murder.

Healthland: Tell me about Donald Hertz. How did he threaten your family?

Hern: He called my office on the afternoon of June 23, last year, three weeks after Dr. Tiller was assassinated. Dr. Tiller was a very dear friend of mine and a colleague, and his assassination was not just a personal loss for his family and his friends but very, very frightening because the same group of people that urged his assassination have also urged this to happen to me.

[Hertz] called and he told a person in my office that two Vietnam veterans were leaving Utah to come to Boulder to hurt my family. It scared us to death. My 92-year-old mother was evacuated from her home in the middle of the night because law enforcement authorities were afraid for her safety. They increased the level of protection for me and my family.

The FBI and federal marshals tracked the phone call to Donald Hertz and he was arrested and brought to trial. He terrorized me and my family, and all he got was a slap on the wrist. 

Healthland: Are you scared?

Hern: I am a physician. I practice medicine. I have been committed to this work since I started in 1973. I will continue doing it. The people who disagree should leave me alone. It is the clear policy of the American anti-abortion movement to kill every doctor who does abortions. It is not a secret.

Healthland: How are you able to continue your work if that’s the case?

Hern: I show up at my office and see my patients.

Healthland: Do you just try not to think about it?

Hern: I can’t help but think about it. That’s what I do for a living.

Mini Roundup: The Pope went to Spain and all he got was a gay “kiss-in.”

November 8, 2010

November 7, 2010

November 5, 2010

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty