No reporter happened to be standing at abortion provider George Tiller‘s side on the Sunday morning in May when he was murdered at gunpoint, allegedly by an anti-choice extremist. But, like the famous newspaper article by journalist Jimmy Breslin that covered JFK’s assassination from the point of view of his grave digger, sometimes a reporter discovers the best way to tell a story lies someplace other than the obvious.
In “The Last Abortion Doctor, Esquire focuses on the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Colorado and Dr. Warren Hern, the last physician in the United States who can perform late-term abortions.The life of a physician who performs abortions—even if they are abortions he has deemed medically necessary, often to save the life of the mother—is not an easy one. When Hern helped open a non-profit abortion clinic in Colorado 1973 (the year the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision effectively legalized abortion), he felt so threatened that he slept with a rifle next to his bed. Since Tiller’s murder, U.S. marshals patrol the premises at his clinic and offer advice on which rooms are safe for him to be in and which aren’t.
Since Hern opened the Boulder Abortion Clinic, a private practice which specializes in fetal disorders, in 1975, he has been the number one target for the pro-life movement. He has received hate mail from anti-choicers, gotten a brick and then five bullets through his clinic window, and had his name on a hit list created by a group who call themselves the Life Activists. To this day, Hern’s 92-year-old mom still gets raging phone calls from people who hate him.
Even at age 70, Hern won’t retire. He says women need him.