August 27, 2009 in City, News

Clinic threat allegedly stemmed from news article

By The Spokesman-Review
 

One month after the killing of abortion doctor George Tiller, a Colorado clinic received a chilling phone call, federal court documents allege.

A man said people from Utah were going to travel to Colorado to kill the family of William Hern, founder of the clinic and one of the few doctors in the country known to perform late-term abortions.

Authorities traced the June 23 phone call to Spokane.

Two days earlier, The Spokesman-Review had published a front-page story detailing Hern’s practice, Boulder Abortion Clinic, and the increase in business he’d seen since Tiller’s murder.

Prosecutors say Donald Hertz, 70, made the threat after he read that story, said Hertz’s lawyer in Spokane, Russell Van Camp.

“We’re going to vigorously defend this,” said Van Camp, who has represented National Right to Life chapters and anti-abortion activists throughout the West. “Mr. Hertz is not the type of person that they allege.”

Hertz is staunchly anti-abortion, Van Camp said, but isn’t associated with national groups.

A retired real estate developer and insurance salesman with no criminal record, Hertz was taken into federal custody Wednesday morning and appeared in U.S. District Court in Spokane that afternoon.

He’s not in custody now but is scheduled to appear in federal court in Denver next month. Van Camp said he’ll try to move the case to Spokane.

Hern opened his abortion clinic in 1975. U.S. Marshals were assigned to protect him after Tiller was gunned down in his Kansas church May 31, allegedly by an anti-abortion advocate.

Hertz is charged with making an interstate threat and violating a 1994 law that protects access to reproductive health services.

He faces up to six years in prison.

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