June 1st, 2009
09:01 PM ET

Pregnancies with fatal complications

Dr. Warren Hern was a friend of Dr. George Tiller, who was killed on Sunday.

Dr. Warren Hern was a friend of Dr. George Tiller, who was killed on Sunday.
Dr. Hern has performed late-term abortions since 1970s.

Dr. Hern has performed late-term abortions since 1970s.

Jim Spellman
CNN All Platform Journalist

If you let your mind wander for a minute the waiting room at the Boulder Abortion Clinic looks like any other doctors office–Ansel Adams prints on the walls, Tropical fish tank, Year old Reader’s Digests–but the two burly undercover U.S. Marshals and the four...yes four…bulletproof glass doors that lead to the office send a different message: this is a war zone.

This is where Dr. Warren Hern has been performing abortions since the 1970s, including controversial late term abortions. Along with his friend Dr. George Tiller, who was killed Sunday, he is one of a handful of doctors that do late term abortions.

In 1985 a large stone was thrown through his front window, but he didn’t quit. He put up a sign that read, "This window was broken by those who hate Freedom."

In 1988, after years of death threats, five shots were fired into his office. No one was hurt. The shooter was never apprehended. That’s when the bulletproof glass was installed.

“For the past 35 years I have expected to be shot when I walk out of my house.” He says, “I expect to be shot doing anything that I’m doing, because the anti-abortion people have sent the message “Do what we tell you to do or we will kill you” and they do, they have they’ve killed a number of doctors and other people.”

He pulls no punches when describing violent anti-abortion extremists.

“This is a fascist, totalitarian, terrorist movement that will take no prisoners that will stop at nothing, including assassination to impose their will on other people,” He says, “This is what they want, this is a terrorist movement.”

His name and the address of his clinic appear on a number of anti-abortion websites in what Hern calls “Hit lists”, and he says anti-abortion protesters are out front of his office almost everyday, but what strikes me most about Dr. Hern is not how he is dealing with what is happening outside the clinic, but how seriously he takes what is happening inside, behind the bulletproof glass, with the women he serves.

“This is an abortion intensive care unit. We take care of women that have very special needs, many of whom have advanced pregnancies, many of whom have desired pregnancies that have very serious if not fatal complications.” He says.

On the podiums of political rallies and the op-ed pages of the newspaper it is easy to forget that abortion is more than a political volleyball. Standing in an examination room where woman actually go through the procedure it all seems a little different.

“It’s very difficult. It’s emotionally and physically demanding. Patients come here at one of the worst moments of their life, making one of the most painful decisions of their life.” He says.

The defiant energy he had earlier in our conversation, when talking about the people he says want to kill him, has mostly vanished here in the examination room. In it’s place a kind of weariness emerges. He seems tired, though no less determined.

“Nobody, even someone who has all the information, can know what is the correct decision, and this is not a decision anyone else can make for the women, they are the most competent people to make these decisions.”

He says his wife wants him to quit, but he says he isn’t going anywhere.

“This is what I do. This is what I do, so that is not an option.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Medical News
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rob in DC

    Dr. George Tiller was a good, patriotic, family man. He served in the U.S. Navy and he was a father and a grandfather. He devoted his life to helping women in difficult circumstances when almost no one else would. His murder is not justified by anyone's religious beliefs. The fact that this heinous, cowardly act was committed in the sanctuary of a christian church is testimony that the murderer is as far from God as you can get. Dr. Tiller will be sorely missed.

    Dr. Hern is also a good man and devoted to helping women in difficult circumstances. If you or a friend or family member ever has need of his services, you will be very thankful that he is here. May he live a long and healthy life.

    The example of Drs. Tiller and Hern inspire young people to enter the profession and take up the cause of women's reproductive health and freedom. I hope that the sacrifices they make on a daily basis result in more protection from the government and an end to the constant harassment they face at the hands of so-called "christians.".

    June 2, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  2. GF, Los Angeles

    I commend you Dr. Hern with continuing your practice. The Pro-Lifer's have painted abortion as a black and white issue when it truly is not. Instead of wasting their time blocking the entrance to the office, they should be adopting all the kids that are brought into this world without families. That would be a true Pro-Life ideal – nurture those that already are out of the womb in orphanages.

    June 2, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  3. Don in Phx

    Murder is never justified. Stopping a beating heart in either case is wrong!

    June 2, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  4. ronvan

    This entire situation is so disgusting! BOTH sides are wrong! The decision as to get an abortion or not should be left up to the individual & NO ONE ELSE! HOW can anyone support a group that says the murder of a human being is justified just because they go against their beleifs? And how does the other side justify getting in another persons business, to include intimidation, ridicule, & threats?

    June 2, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  5. terry

    I believe he should continue with his practice. When a woman gets an abortion at that late of a term there is a reason. This is between the woman, family and her higher being. No matter what the situation is it is a hard one and we should not judge. We should be blessed that there are drs like him. Has anyone thought this could be hard on the drs?

    June 2, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  6. Sheila Simmons

    I am a 50 year old Black woman. I can not believe that the DA. is charging the pharmacist with 1st degree murder. I do not believe that he just wanted to kill the robber. Just a few minutes before he was handling business as usual. These men came in to rob and cause him,co-worker and customers harm. The man had to have been in shock. I do not care what color you are. That is the price you pay when you rob.

    June 2, 2009 at 6:07 am |
  7. Dr. Ken Wilcox

    although abortion may continue to be an ethical debate, at this time it is legal and Dr's are permitted to perform such procedures. Pro-lifers need to take this to politicians and not to the service provider. It is a shame!

    June 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm |