The Fight of Their Lives
The plainclothes cops, their shoulder holsters bulging beneath suit coats, confer quietly with a knot of uniformed state troopers outside the old Supreme Court chambers. Here on the second floor of the State Capitol, the air is as heavy as the moment before a summer thunderstorm.
Mike Newell, Denver detective-turned-security-consultant, marches toward the officers. A specialist in "stalker suppression," his role this day is to guard the man who walks a few steps behind him.
Newell introduces his client, a trim man in a nicely tailored suit with a silk handkerchief; he is not wearing the bulletproof vest he had on the last time he visited the legislature. "This is Dr. Hern," Newell says, then produces a flier with the mug shot and vital statistics of Hern's adversary. "And this is Ken Scott. He's trying to get in. We have a permanent restraining order. He is not to be within a mile of the doctor."
Warren Hern stands just outside the circle of cops, in the shadows of a pillar, his mouth set in a tight, almost lipless line. He's well aware that some of the people wandering the halls, waiting for the hearing to start, wish him ill--or worse. Even his supporters often think of him as nothing more than a symbol. After all, he is an abortion doctor, a pariah even among those who stand by him on principle.
An abortion doctor has many enemies; Ken Scott is just the most recent--and the most persistent.
Scott's latest tactic was to file a lawsuit against Hern, asking $10 million and change for having him tossed into the Colorado Mental Health Institute for 41 days. His free-speech rights had been violated, Scott complained. But from the document, it is clear that what really riles Scott is that Hern obtained the restraining order while he was locked up.
"I don't give a fig for Ken Scott's First Amendment rights," Hern says, moving closer to Newell. "He doesn't respect anybody else's rights."
But Scott's right to speak is now the issue. The committee's chairman has insisted that Scott be allowed to testify about the abortion bill being considered that afternoon. Under Hern's restraining order, however, Scott cannot come within a mile of the Capitol while the doctor is in the building.
With Newell working as an intermediary and setting the parameters, Hern is persuaded to compromise: Hern will leave the building until after Scott testifies; then Scott will be escorted from the building by state troopers while Hern and Newell come in through another entrance.
Hern can be as obstinate as his opponents are intractable, and equally self-righteous. In this case, though, his concern may be warranted: Over two years ago Scott predicted the abortion doctor would soon be dead.
Warren Hern was born in Abilene, Kansas, in 1938. "My father was a carpenter, a superb artist and craftsman who probably never brought home more than $12,000 in a year," he says. "He was intelligent and opinionated. Both my parents were. Not educated, but smart.
"They didn't really know what education is. My father probably never had the faintest idea of what an advanced education does for the mind, but they knew it was important."
So important that the Herns, neither of whom had gone past high school, bought an encyclopedia for Warren when he was four. "It was called The Book of Knowledge," he recalls over fifty years later, sitting in a Chinese restaurant in Boulder. His back, as always these days, is against the wall.
"My mother would read it to me. Then there were piano lessons when I was six and clarinet lessons when I was eight--not an inconsiderable expense for a family that essentially lived from paycheck to paycheck."
Warren's folks were working-class people, good solid Methodists who attended church every Sunday and imparted a strong sense of social justice in their son and the two daughters who followed after the family moved to Colorado.
Still, young Warren was no crusader. In fact, he wanted to be a photographer. While a student at Englewood High School, he already was stringing for the Denver Post. Life's editors invited him to apply for a job at the magazine after he'd gained a little more experience. But it was another publication that changed the course of his life: a book about Albert Schweitzer.
As a young man, Schweitzer had vowed to live for art until he was thirty, then devote the rest of his life to serving humanity. True to his word, in 1905 he turned his back on music and theology--fields in which he'd already earned an international reputation--and began to study medicine. In 1913 he set up a hospital in French Equatorial Africa, where the Nobel Prize winner was still working when Hern read his autobiography.
Hern liked the idea of a discipline with so many facets. As a doctor, he could treat patients, or pursue scientific research, or both--either way, helping people lead better lives. And as a doctor, he would be a respected member of the community, one whose opinions mattered. So after graduating from high school in 1956, Hern enrolled at the University of Colorado as a pre-med student majoring in speech with minors in anthropology and chemistry.
College turned Hern's traditional beliefs upside down. A "fairly religious" high school student, he now discovered new ways of looking at the world and its mysteries through courses in anthropology, comparative religions and Greek philosophy. His professors challenged him to think for himself and learn to defend his conclusions through civilized debate rather than accept without question the "received knowledge" of his parents.
"It was disturbing," Hern recalls. "I wanted to hold on to my faith, so I read more, but the more I read, the less I believed. I saw a lot of problems between Christianity as a theology and how it was applied in the real world. Sectarian strife and violence. Oppression of non-believers.
"The Catholic Church was exactly 350 years behind the times, because that's how long it took the church to get over Galileo saying that Copernicus was right: The sun does not revolve around the Earth, and the Earth was not the center of the solar system."
Hern suddenly slams the table with a fist. He has little patience with ignorance, even ancient ignorance. "Whoa," he says. "Lock him up, the heretic...Meanwhile, the Pope is living in luxury in a palatial setting telling poor people to strip their lands bare and reproduce as much as possible."
For Hern, faith gave way to reason, miracles to the empirical data of science. "I had the heart of a believer but the mind of a skeptic, and gradually, the skeptic won."
It was hard on his parents, especially his father, when Hern announced he had rejected Christianity. Their debates could be rancorous, with the know-it-all son tromping heavily across the father's rock of ages. Still, they could always talk.
It wasn't until 1961 that Hern ran into a group that allowed no room for dissent. He and a classmate had noticed a newspaper ad promoting a sermon on "Americanism." On a whim, the two young men attended the meeting at a Denver church.
"If you're a good American, stand up!" the minister exhorted the congregation as the choir marched down the aisle carrying hymnals and small American flags.
"America for Americans for America!" the man shouted, pointing a finger at the crowd. "There are communists here tonight...right now! We know you're here." The crowd responded with cheers, clenched fists and patriotic hymns.
"We believe in freedom of opinion, freedom of speech," the minister cried.
"Amen!" the crowd yelled back.
"We believe in the American way of life," he shouted.
"That's right, brother," they agreed.
"We hate COMMUNISTS!" he screamed.
"God save us!"
On their return to Boulder, Hern and his friend wrote an account of the evening for the school newspaper. "Why do these people turn to demagogues?" they asked. "Why do people surrender themselves to blind, mindless hate?...Why the strange alliance of religion and super-patriotism?"
Hern could not know that he would be asking the same questions thirty years later--and coming no closer to an answer.
He started medical school with the fervor of someone out to save the world but by the third year was disenchanted enough to consider quitting...until his rotation to the obstetrics floor at University Hospital. "I loved delivering babies," Hern says, then peers quickly through his glasses as though he expects to be challenged. "It was the happiest thing in the world, a miracle. I love babies and I love children."
But he was troubled by the contrast between women who wanted their babies and those for whom pregnancy was a disaster and adoption the only option. "I remember a woman standing at the window of the nursery looking in at the baby she couldn't keep and crying," he says, closing his eyes. "Another woman who wanted to give up her baby for adoption began bleeding and needed a C-section. Her baby was blue and wasn't expected to live, or surely would have been mentally retarded and unlikely to be adopted. She was just trying to get over the pregnancy. Instead, there was this catastrophe."
Hern's next rotation took him to gynecology, where he worked late into the night trying to save the lives of women suffering from septic abortions, their plight self-inflicted or the result of back-alley butchery. Fellow students whispered about one woman who wanted to end her pregnancy so desperately that she shot herself in the stomach.
In the summers, Hern traveled far away from med school. In 1961 he went to Africa, half hoping to visit Schweitzer at his clinic but instead crossing paths with the first-ever busload of Peace Corps volunteers, heading into the bush that he had just left. In 1962 he flew to Nicaragua, still under the CIA-installed, authoritarian Somoza regime, to practice his Spanish and roam about the countryside. One day he was invited for coffee by a group of young revolutionaries who called themselves Sandinistas and excitedly told him of their plans to overthrow the government.
Africa. Latin America. Everywhere Hern went, he found people trying to cope with fewer resources even as their populations grew faster than ever before. They were unable to control this explosion; indeed, in Catholic countries, they were prohibited from doing so.
The summer after his third year of medical school, Hern decided to test his commitment. He contacted a Unitarian Church service committee that sometimes sponsored medical students who wanted to assist doctors working in remote areas of the world; they hooked him up with a German doctor--a protege of Schweitzer, as a matter of fact--who was working in the Peruvian Amazon.
That's how Hern found himself at the Hospital Amazónico Albert Schweitzer near Pucallpa, a frontier town of 25,000 with "dirt streets and Saturday night gunfights." Greeting him was Dr. Theodor Binder, whose wild gray hair and extraordinarily bushy eyebrows gave him a constantly surprised look. He took Hern on a tour of the 28-bed hospital, which usually housed about forty patients.
Schweitzer's former pupil was much more of a humanitarian than an administrator. His method of running the hospital came as close to anarchy as was possible while still keeping patients alive. Hern hurried to implement as many modern practices at the hospital as materials would allow.
Most of the patients were Shipibo Indians, whose villages followed the course of the jungle rivers that eventually flowed into the Amazon. Hern soon found himself cruising up those rivers in a dugout canoe powered by a small outboard motor to treat those who couldn't, or wouldn't, come to the hospital. He dealt with everything from tuberculosis and cholera to broken bones and snakebites, occasionally even delivering babies. As he traveled, he began gathering notes for a possible research project on medical anthropology.
The Shipibos' culture was "steeped in beliefs about the natural world," Hern says, and they loved their children above all else. But at the same time, the women tried desperately to control their fertility, usually unsuccessfully. It wasn't uncommon for women to have ten children.
"Their bodies were falling apart, they were dying in childbirth," he recalls. "They couldn't afford to feed or clothe the children they had. Yet the government wouldn't allow contraception, and the priests would tell them to keep having more babies. So they would have abortions." And all too often, they would die before Hern or anyone else from the hospital could undo the damage.
When his stint with Binder neared an end, Hern didn't want to leave. He had fallen in love with the jungle, with its mysteries, its animals and the gentle Shipibo--and with what he could do to help them. He had come to regard one man in particular, Eleodoro Maynas, as fondly as a brother.
During a smallpox epidemic, the last of its kind in the Western hemisphere, Hern accompanied Maynas and two other Shipibo men on a canoe trip to remote villages decimated by the disease. A group of missionaries had agreed to fly smallpox vaccine, which had to be kept refrigerated, to a drop point two days later. As they made their way up the river, the men asked Indians they encountered to run on ahead and tell the villagers when and where vaccinations would be performed.
The first night they camped on a sandbar, listening to the sounds of exotic birds, fish jumping from the river and alligators chasing them. A satellite passed overhead, and as they gazed at the stars, Hern tried to explain what it was to men only a generation removed from the Stone Age. He wondered how they would survive.
Helping people was the reason Hern had gone into medicine. But when he wrote and asked to take a year off in order to stay with the Shipibo, he was told that if he didn't return to Colorado that fall, he would lose his place in class.
So Hern went back. After he finished med school, he spent two years as a Peace Corps doctor in Brazil and then enrolled at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. He finally returned to the Peruvian Amazon in 1969 to work on his master's thesis: He wanted to study the health effects of cultural and ecological change.
He no longer believed in Schweitzer's approach to healing, in his emphasis on relieving individual suffering. Although that was an honorable endeavor, without an emphasis on public health it was simply "repetitive relief of preventable illness," Hern had concluded.
"Schweitzer is an incredible historic figure," Hern says now. "He made a fabulous contribution to Western civilization as a humanitarian and to the people he helped. He gave us a great moral example, and I admired him tremendously as a man. But he was a man of his time, the nineteenth century, and should be seen in the context of his time."
Hern looks up. "Schweitzer would probably be horrified at what I do now," he says slowly.
"It took me some time to be reconciled to that."
Ken Scott was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1949. His father worked as a superintendent at the Keebler Cookie Factory; his mother was a kindergarten and first-grade teacher. They were good, solid Lutherans who attended church every Sunday--or at least, Ken's mother and her sons did.
In a 1994 psychological evaluation, Scott described his father as hardworking but strict and unaffectionate. His mother, who'd gone back to work after he and his brother started school, "was a very loving and caring woman who was concerned about her family," Scott told the psychologist. "She was not afraid to rack you up if you had it coming, but could show compassion."
(Scott, who spoke with Westword in the fall of 1995 ["Battle Cry," November 1, 1995] declined to be interviewed for this story. When contacted by phone, his mother hung up.)
Ken, the Scotts' elder son, was a big kid--eventually reaching 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds--and an accomplished athlete. He had problems academically, however, because he was dyslexic. And, the psychologist noted, "he was not too involved with females because he couldn't dance and states that he had no rhythm."
Where Scott truly excelled was as a hunter. After the family moved to Colorado when he was a senior in high school, he would sometimes disappear into the mountains for weeks, always emerging with his prey. "His friends told me that if you couldn't fill your elk tag, he'd do it for you," says Mike Newell, who was hired by Planned Parenthood to investigate Scott in 1993.
Scott told friends that he'd once followed a mountain lion for several days. At one point, the rock he was climbing on slipped down the hillside before coming to a precarious stop at the edge of a cliff. Fearing it would slide off entirely, he lay still for hours before finally deciding the rock was stable. He got off and went on to kill the lion, keeping its skin for a rug.
To his friends, Scott boasted that it was the stalking that made hunting so rewarding. He followed a bear for three days, played cat-and-mouse with elk and deer before finishing them off.
After graduating from high school in 1967, Scott went to Trinidad Junior College on a wrestling scholarship. "He wanted to be a teacher but found that he couldn't spell very well and didn't think that would go over very well with the people who ran the schools," the psychologist noted.
In 1969 Scott met a pretty sixteen-year-old Hispanic girl from a poor Trinidad family. She was soon pregnant, and they married that summer--a rebellion against his parents' strictness, Scott told the psychologist.
The young couple moved to Fort Collins, where Scott enrolled at Colorado State University. He found the classes too difficult, though, and dropped out.
Scott's marriage didn't last much longer than his college career, and the couple divorced in 1973. Scott refused to pay child support for his daughter; he told the psychologist his wife had left him for another man.
In 1968 Hern returned from his stint as a Peace Corps doctor to a country in turmoil. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. The Vietnam War still raged; a medical-school classmate had died after stepping on a mine near Da Nang.
Hern had planned to spend some time with his family before heading to graduate school in North Carolina. But when Senator Eugene McCarthy's personal physician made a televised appeal for doctors to help protesters set upon by police outside the Democratic National Convention, he flew to Chicago. As he rode the bus from O'Hare airport into the city, where he would establish the first emergency clinic for protesters, he gazed out on scenes of urban blight.
Assassination. Intolerance. Pollution. Overcrowding. Hern wondered if his countrymen realized they weren't very far removed from the third-world countries he'd been exploring. Automobiles were just the latest species with which man had to compete for survival, he theorized in a piece he wrote that fall for the Post.
In 1971 Hern was recruited by the federal Office of Economic Opportunity. He'd wanted to pursue a doctorate in epidemiology, the study of the distribution and control of disease in a population, but he was out of money. He took the job and moved to Washington, D.C.
At the OEO, Hern was asked to study abortion-law changes and voluntary sterilization programs for poor women. Among his findings was that minority women died as a result of septic abortions at much higher rates than did white women; the implication was that the latter, in general, could afford safer, if still illegal, procedures.
That year Hern performed his first abortion while volunteering at the Preterm Clinic, the first freestanding abortion clinic in D.C. His patient was seventeen, and before the procedure, she told Hern she wanted to be a doctor and anesthesiologist.
"I was terrified, and so was she," Hern later wrote in an article for Women's Health Issues. "She cried after the operation for sadness and relief. Her tears and the immensity of the moment brought my tears. I had helped her change her life.
"I was relieved that this young woman was safe to go on with her life and realize her dreams. I felt I had found a new definition of the idea of medicine as an act of compassion and love for one's fellow human beings, an idea that I gained from learning about Albert Schweitzer."
This very private matter between a girl and her physician was suddenly getting lots of public attention. Hern heard the lawyers arguing Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court and met doctors and others involved with the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and the Women's National Abortion Action Coalition.
As a budding epidemiologist, Hern was interested in the implications of abortion as a public-health issue, and he wrote several articles on the subject. In "Biological Tyranny," published in The New Republic, he noted that of the 800 to 5,000 women who died in this country each year because of illegal abortions, a disproportionate number were minorities.
This observation earned him hate mail from a white-supremacist organization in Atlanta, which thought Hern was advocating limiting the white population while encouraging public-health policies to keep minorities alive. One morning he found a flier bearing his name, a swastika and a death threat slipped under his apartment door.
Before, Hern had walked miles to work without worrying about D.C.'s notoriously high crime rate. Now he imagined thugs out there waiting for him, ready to kill him for simply expressing an opinion. He felt hunted.
In 1972 Hern quit the OEO and moved back to Colorado. He planned to return to North Carolina to get his Ph.D.; in the meantime, he worked part-time as the medical director of a Department of Health, Education and Welfare family-planning training program in Denver. And he built a mountain home in a remote area of Gilpin County, working alongside his father. They had learned to set aside their philosophical differences and instead apply their energy to nails and lumber.
"I wanted a place that I could go to for peace and quiet," Hern says. "Where I could talk to the chipmunks, write, read, play the piano and guitar."
In January 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in favor of the pro-choice faction. Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Harry Blackmun concluded that the right to privacy included a woman's right to keep abortion a private matter between herself and her physician. That right, however, was not absolute; the judges recognized that states had some interests in regulating abortion at later stages of pregnancy.
That April, Hern was asked to help start a freestanding abortion clinic in Boulder, the first such clinic in the state. Although he was still committed to his research project, he agreed. "The freedom to choose a safe and legal abortion meant nothing without someone willing to do it," he says now.
For Hern, the matter went far beyond concern for women's health. It was a question of freedom for women in the face of men who would control them and deny them full rights as citizens. As recently as the Fifties, in order to get an abortion, a woman had to go to a psychiatrist and be declared mentally ill. Now she could have the final say regarding what happened to her body.
Opening the Boulder Valley Clinic was relatively easy. Keeping it open was something else.
Anti-abortion protesters lined up outside the clinic but also took their fight to other fronts. Hern started getting threatening phone calls at home--"We're going to kill you." "If you want to live, stop doing abortions"--and he purchased a rifle that he kept next to his bed. The Boulder Valley Right-to-Life Committee sent out a mass mailing of brochures featuring dismembered fetuses. Some physicians at Boulder Community Hospital opposed Hern's application for hospital privileges, which he would need in case of emergencies that couldn't be handled at the clinic. Clinic personnel were accused of "corrupting" youth because the facility was located a block from a junior high school and a Catholic school. A Fight the Abortion Clinic Committee demanded that the Boulder City Council recognize the clinic as a "clear and present danger" to community health and close it. Anti-abortion doctors wanted to make the same request of county and state health boards.
After touring the clinic, however, a delegation from the Boulder County Medical Society announced that the clinic's standards of medical care were "exemplary and commendable." A short time later, after heated debate, Hern was granted hospital privileges by a narrow margin.
He thought he'd stay at the clinic for about a year, until the protesters saw that it wasn't going away and gave up.
"If you had told me then that more than twenty years later I would still be in a clinic, performing abortions, I would have told you, 'No way. You've got to be kidding,'" Hern says, then shrugs. "But here I am."
In 1974 Hern returned to the Peruvian Amazon for a few weeks. It felt good to get back to medicine: straightening broken bones, treating pneumonia, delivering babies into their mothers' arms. His friend Eleodoro Maynas was always close by and kept Hern from harm. On one trip upriver, they saw a rough-looking character who warned them away from his village. It became apparent that the man was telling other men that Hern was out to castrate them. "We'd come to a village, and there would be these men holding their balls in one hand and a machete in the other, ready to lop off my head," Hern says, flashing a rare smile. "But Eleodoro was able to convince them that I was there to help."
As they traveled, Hern talked to Maynas about what was taking place in Boulder. The small Indian shook his head. He knew a lot about political terrorism--Peru's rulers had treated his people like dogs for centuries. It was politics that prevented his friend the doctor from bringing tootimarau, birth-control medicine, to his people; politics that made so many women die from too many births or risky abortions.
These people in Boulder sounded dangerous. "Be careful," Maynas said. "We want you to come back."
Actually, Hern was again thinking of staying with the Shipibo, to continue his research and take care of people who appreciated his help. They'd adopted him as one of their own, even giving him the name Caibima, which translates roughly to "he who travels far but always returns here."
He had few friends in Boulder who would miss him.
"What I do is disreputable, repugnant," Hern says, unable to disguise the bitterness in his voice. "Even those people who agreed with me in principle didn't want me around them on a personal basis."
But Hern knew he couldn't abandon the clinic. And as he journeyed through the jungle, he adopted a two-word reason that he repeats like a mantra whenever he needs to remind himself why. "It matters," he said then and says now. "It matters to women and their families. It matters to the cause of freedom."
So when Hern returned to Boulder, he picked up the pace, readily accepting offers to debate the abortion issue. At one debate, Hern had to be escorted out the back of the auditorium when a mob rushed the stage. And when the Denver chapter of the National Organization for Women held a rally to honor those who had helped women's-rights issues, including Hern, "fanatics" shouted that he was a murderer. As Hern began his prepared speech about the need for safe and legal abortions, they kept shouting. He spoke louder. Their faces twisted with hatred as they screamed.
"It was a little frightening," he recalls. "It was exhilarating. There was really something fearsome about people who hated me so much and who would go after me in a personal way. I said we would not return to back-alley abortions for the same reasons that we would not go back to slavery, public flogging and the bubonic plague. That barbaric time in history was over.
"I felt defiant. But I also felt afraid of what those people might try to do to me. It was a defining moment."
The next year Hern decided to again postpone his research plans and instead start his own clinic. "I felt that at the time, the most important thing I could do in medicine was perform abortions," he says. "The whole thing hung in the balance."
Hern resorted to subterfuge to find space and get bank loans; he knew that telling a property manager or banker what he intended would doom his venture before it was off the ground. But once he got it up and running, he called his facility the Boulder Abortion Clinic, well aware that the name was both advertising and sending a message to his opponents: He wasn't going to hide.
He placed ads for the clinic in every Colorado Yellow Pages. At first, the phone company balked--especially after Hern demanded that there be a separate listing for Abortion Service Providers. The medical society didn't approve, a phone company spokesman told him. "What do they have to say about it?" Hern replied. He kept up his demands until he got his way.
Hern's in-your-face attitude made him the champion of abortion rights in the state, and often at a national level. Whenever the press needed a quote, Hern obliged. If some pro-choice group wanted a speech, Hern stood at the podium and accepted the jeers along with the applause.
He put a human face on what had long been a dirty little non-secret.
"I believed that calling my practice the Boulder Abortion Clinic and going public was part of the process of societal legitimization of abortion," Hern explains. "It's been part of the human experience for hundreds of thousands of years, but nobody wants to talk about it.
"I was the very devil to some people for trying to say that abortion was a medical procedure that greatly affected the health and well-being of women. That made some people afraid...especially men who fear they can't compete with women on a level playing field in the first place. The reaction to fear is anger and hatred."
Depressed after his divorce, Ken Scott left the state to work construction in Wyoming and Nebraska. When he returned to Colorado, he went back to school, this time at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo. His grades weren't great, but he managed to graduate in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in history and a minor in psychology.
In 1980 Scott attended a party at a country club, where he met nineteen-year-old Tracy, who was tending bar. If his wife had been pretty, Tracy was a knockout, although Scott told the psychologist that it was she who chased after him. (Tracy, which is not her real name, is now in hiding and declined to be interviewed; court documents tell much of her story.)
Tracy and Scott married in 1982. Six months later he hit her for the first time, she later testified. He'd come home from the dog track three hours late for dinner and drunk. When she confronted him, he knocked her down with the back of his hand, then straddled her as he slapped her face.
Tracy went to the hospital. And then she went back home to Scott.
Financially, the couple made a good team. Tracy, who also modeled professionally, went to real estate school. Together they'd buy property, including houses and apartment buildings, using her business sense to close the deal and Scott for the "grunt work."
They'd stay in a new property until Scott was ready to sell it and move on. But despite their growing fortune, they didn't have much in the way of furniture or nice things; Scott apparently didn't want to spend money.
In fact, spending money was a good way for Tracy to get hit. According to court documents, Tracy said abuse continued even after she became pregnant. As her delivery day approached, however, Scott became excited, sure he was about to have a boy.
When Tracy delivered twin girls in May 1983, Scott got angry. He left the young mother and two infants alone for two weeks while he stayed in a cabin they owned in the mountains.
In 1984 he put Tracy's head through a sheet of drywall. She hired an attorney to get a restraining order and file for divorce. She changed her mind when Scott agreed to go to counseling, but then he refused to participate at the sessions.
His moods could swing wildly. According to court documents, Tracy would sometimes come home and find Scott hiding in a closet or sitting fully clothed in a bathtub full of water. She worried that he always carried one of his guns--and he had more than a dozen, a combination of rifles, shotguns and handguns.
Scott told the psychologist doing the 1994 evaluation that Tracy was a "very bossy female," "high-powered" and a "spendaholic." It was a good thing, he said, that he was a "workaholic."
Despite their troubles, Tracy agreed to have another child. They planned to go to a specialist to ensure that this baby was a boy. But Tracy became pregnant before they ever saw the specialist. And in May 1986 she gave birth to another girl.
That's when Ken Scott really started to come apart.
In 1984 Warren Hern took his wife, a nurse he'd married two years earlier, to visit the Peruvian Amazon. One day Indian friends arrived in a dugout canoe; they brought with them the first copy of Hern's book, Abortion Practices. It was a complete guide to establishing a clinic such as his, including how to counsel women considering abortion and how to deal with protesters and the press.
That book moved Hern to the top of the anti-abortion hit list. On his return home, he was greeted by condemnation from his enemies. But at the National Abortion Federation meeting on the East Coast that year, he also received congratulations from supportive colleagues.
Joe Scheidler was not one of them. In fact, Hern was surprised he'd been allowed into the meeting.
Scheidler was the director of the Pro-Life Action Network, a group committed to closing abortion clinics. Although publicly Scheidler professed nonviolent confrontation, not all of his followers got the message. "It was muddle-headed liberal nonsense to let that Nazi son of a bitch into the meeting," Hern says now. "Joe Scheidler looks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi, thinks like a Nazi and behaves like a Nazi...He's obviously not a duck. He's in league with all the tyrants of history."
Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, the war over abortion had been growing more violent and political. By the fall of 1984, 24 abortion clinics had been bombed or torched. Yet William Webster, Reagan's FBI director, said the bombings couldn't be considered terrorism "because we don't know who's doing it."
"You and I know that if that had been 24 gas stations, much less 24 Baptist churches, there would have been a massive investigation," Hern says. "It was easy to see that the federal government wasn't going to do anything--which was like giving the bombers a green light."
Scheidler was already famous for declaring that he had yet to shed a tear "over the smoldering ashes of an abortion clinic." At the meeting, Hern decided to approach the man and ask that he tone down the rhetoric before someone got hurt. "I believe there is room to disagree about this issue and still be civilized," Hern says. "But when I said that to him, he looked me in the eye--and he's a big man, remember--and said very slowly and ominously, 'I'm coming to destroy you.'
"I shuddered and thought, 'Boy, here's the enemy. This man will stop at nothing, because this isn't about abortion; it's about power.'"
In October 1985 Hern traveled to Germany to discuss late abortion at a medical seminar. By now his Boulder clinic specialized in second-trimester abortions because they were harder for women to obtain and more dangerous than first-trimester procedures. After the seminar, Hern and an abortion doctor from Wichita, Dr. George Tiller, and Tiller's wife went on a tour of East Germany. The Berlin Wall was still up in those days, and Hern found himself both fascinated and chilled as they moved through Checkpoint Charlie. It was sobering to see what some governments would do to control their people.
But the most disturbing moment of the trip came when their guide stopped at a Jewish synagogue still marked by the flames of Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi-inspired attack on German Jews. "It struck me that this had happened in my lifetime," Hern says. "And this was just one place where such a thing got started."
Hern returned home just in time to read in the newspaper that Scheidler, "the most feared opponent of pro-choice," was coming to town to shut down his clinic. He'd been invited by Students for a Better America, a right-wing student group on the Boulder campus. Asked by a reporter if he feared Scheidler, Hern responded, "I have a short list of things that scare me--lightning, sharks and grizzly bears among them...He didn't make the cut."
Hern decided to stick to his schedule and attend a Planned Parenthood physicians' meeting in Seattle when Scheidler was due in town. Although Hern thought Scheidler was mostly bluster, the Boulder police promised to beef up security at the clinic.
Hern was startled out of his complacency by a long-distance call from his terrified clinic administrator. She'd been alone in the office when a brick came crashing through the front window. Instantly, Hern says, he flashed on Kristallnacht and realized his error. The Nazis, at least in the beginning, hadn't been large in number, either. They'd gained power through threats and criminal attacks, while men of good will had done nothing to stop them.
Hern flew back to Colorado. By the time he reached the clinic, the brick-throwing had been traced to the husband of a woman who'd helped organize Scheidler's trip to Boulder. Looking at the plywood that covered the broken window, Hern thought about what he could do; Scheidler was scheduled to hold a press conference outside the clinic the next morning.
Hern fell asleep trying to think of a counter-measure. When he awoke a few hours later, he had an idea. He called his administrator and told her to postpone repairing the window. Then he got a piece of mat board and wrote in large dark letters: "THIS WINDOW WAS BROKEN BY THOSE WHO HATE FREEDOM." He took the board to the clinic and taped it to the plywood.
So when Scheidler gave his speech, including his customary denial of condoning violence "though I can sure understand it," he did so with Hern's sign behind him for every camera to record.
Hern offered his own statement to the press: "Mr. Scheidler incites violence in his followers and then disavows it. Mr. Scheidler has contempt for women, he has contempt for American laws, and he has contempt for the American tradition of fair play."
A decade later, Hern credits Scheidler's visit with increasing his resolve to stay and fight. "I figured if a man like Joe Scheidler would come all the way from Chicago to shut me down," he says, "then I must be doing something very important in the cause of human freedom."
What he was doing mattered, but it also took a great personal toll. Scheidler returned to Boulder several times over the next year, and the threats to Hern increased accordingly. He no longer felt safe anywhere except his mountain home. It had been his custom to go for a run at noon in a park several blocks from his clinic; although he kept at it, he now assumed he'd be shot while running one day.
The biggest blow was the end of his marriage in the fall of 1986. "My wife was very frightened," Hern says. "Her family wanted me to do something else...There were times I wanted to, but I couldn't walk away.
"I was very devoted to my wife," he says quietly. "I still regard her as quite a fine person. But she concluded that she wasn't happy living with me."
That fall the Boulder City Council passed the country's first "buffer-zone ordinance." It states that if a demonstrator is within 100 feet of a clinic entrance, he must stay eight feet from a patient--but only if the patient puts up her hand and says, "Step back."
The ordinance was "cosmetic," Hern criticized at the time. "A fundamental problem is that the ordinance places the burden of prosecution on the patient. It also assumes that anti-abortion demonstrators are reasonable people who respond to reasonable requests and respect the law. Overwhelming experience shows this is not the case."
It was shown again and again in 1987 and 1988, as the demonstrations outside Hern's clinic grew in size and vehemence. Now protesters were doing more than speaking out. They repeatedly poured glue in the locks of clinic doors. They slashed the tires of cars in the parking lot, including those belonging to cleaning people and Hern's elderly mother, who was visiting one day. A nurse with a car almost identical to Hern's complained that when she drove home from work one day, her car did not seem to be steering properly. It turned out someone had loosened all the lug nuts on her tires.
In Hern's opinion, the demonstrators gave up their free-speech rights when they began screaming at patients and staff, calling names, making threats and destroying property. "It was psychological rape of my patients," he says. "These people were no longer expressing opinion, they were violating my patients' right to privacy.
"It is perhaps the most severe test of the limits of a free society ever. These people have no respect for the constitutional rights of others."
The first week of February 1988 was not a good time for Hern. His divorce was finalized, and "I was devastated," he says, tears coming to his eyes. "I did not want to be divorced. I wanted a family and a wife I could come home to and share my life with."
One day, Reagan and Pat Robertson both made anti-abortion statements sure to stir up the rabble. "I was getting a lot of negative messages," Hern says, "and it was very depressing. I was thinking about just going away to live permanently in the Peruvian Amazon, even taking a Shipibo wife and raising a family there."
Late that same day, Hern left the clinic and drove home. Soon after, three bullets were fired through the front window of the clinic. A staffer who went into the waiting room to investigate was almost hit when two more shots were fired a minute later.
The lights of the clinic had been on, and there were cars in the parking lot; whoever fired the shots had known there were people inside. Outraged, Hern held a press conference in front of the clinic the next morning, denouncing the perpetrator and offering a $5,000 reward.
"It concentrated my mind," Herns says of the shooting. "I knew that running away to the Amazon wasn't going to solve my problems. And I knew that if fanatics were prepared to use bullets to stop me, then beyond a doubt, I knew that what I do matters. I couldn't stop, even if I wanted to. Otherwise, those who hate freedom would have won."
In 1988 Ken Scott was arrested for assault in Westminster, adding to a growing police record.
After the birth of their third child, his behavior had grown more violent. Tracy tried to enlist his parents in an effort to help get him into a hospital for drug and alcohol counseling, but they denied their son had a problem, according to court documents.
Finally in 1990, Tracy told Scott she was leaving him--this time for good. He didn't believe her and instead ordered her to pack up their belongings for another move to a new house while he went on a two-week hunting trip.
Tracy did move her things, as well as the kids'. But she left Scott's belongings, along with most of the furnishings, in the apartment where they'd been living. When Scott got back, he came looking for Tracy at the new house. She was on the telephone. When she refused to get off, Scott ripped the phone from the wall and smashed it on the floor.
Tracy managed to escape and ran to her car. She was backing out of the garage when she realized she'd left the girls in the house with Scott. She drove to the police station; the cops came back with her and told Scott to leave.
The next six weeks were hell. At one point, Scott broke into the empty house and, using Tracy's red lipstick, wrote on the walls, "God in, evil out." He also wrote 33 letters that he distributed around the house. Some were love letters. Others were threatening. "It's time for you to go to heaven," read one. Scott said he might snap her neck or use a gun. It would be quick, he promised, but she would have time to look into his eyes and repent.
Tracy turned the letters over to the police. The cops came to shoot photos of the wall, but they couldn't find Scott.
The harassment continued. Sometimes she would be sleeping and wake to a knock at her window, but when she looked out, no one was there. Or the telephone would ring and she would hear Scott's strange, two-tone whistle.
One day in October, he called and said he'd decided it was time for her to die. His talk rambled. Sometimes he said he was afraid he was Satan, then he'd claim to be the next coming of Christ. While she recorded his conversation on one line, Tracy called Scott's parents on another and begged them to come pick up the kids. Then she pleaded with Scott to see a doctor. He agreed... but only if she would come get him. A snowstorm had blanketed the city, but Tracy said she would.
With the police following at a distance, a terrified Tracy picked up her husband. He was wearing all white, cotton clothes, having read somewhere in the Bible that it was evil to wear anything else; he said he had burned his other clothes. He was also carrying one of the girls' Bibles and quoting nursery rhymes, which he claimed was "speaking in tongues." She drove him to Porter Hospital.
A psychiatrist there determined that Scott was bipolar, a condition more commonly known as manic depressive. Scott also had a chemical imbalance that was causing him to be delusional and have psychotic episodes, the doctor said. Without medication, the problem would get worse.
But Scott refused to take drugs unless Tracy took them with him; he was afraid the doctors would try to poison him. So for the next several weeks, Tracy, wearing white cotton as Scott ordered, was given a placebo while her husband took his medication.
Scott's condition stabilized, but the doctors warned that the drugs were not a cure. Their useful effects would last only as long as he continued taking the medicine.
Tracy wasn't about to wait around to find out how long Scott would do that. She filed for divorce, giving Scott most of their real estate properties. She just wanted out.
While at Porter, Scott lost his wife--but he found God with a vengeance. He was going to round up disciples of his own, he told Tracy. It would take him a few years, but when he had all twelve it would be time for Armegeddon.
Busy planning the end of the world, Scott still had time for Tracy. He wrote her more letters. "Please let me fix breakfast...Please let me kill ever [sic] frog that gets near you!" he wrote in one.
"Roses are red, violets are blue, you're so delicious, I want to chew on you," he wrote in another.
The letters were full of spelling mistakes and desperate promises. "I'm never going to threat anyone and especial you ever ever again...I'm sorry I've been so mean and have tried to brake you down to my level...I hope you'll introduce me as your best friend AND husband again... My heart is hurting so bad and I know I have hurt your's so much more over so long. Please let me be the doctor operate on yours to make it well for the rest of your life."
Then the letters got more threatening, Tracy later testified. They were destined to be together, Scott vowed in one, even if it meant dying together "like Romeo and Juliet." God had given him permission to punish her and make her repent.
After Scott was released from Porter and moved in with his parents, he again broke into Tracy's house. This time he left candy--Tracy had a sweet tooth--along with a note that read, "I'm waiting for you, my sweet thing."
A few weeks later Scott walked into the house and told Tracy he'd sign the divorce papers without a fight--God had told him she'd never go through with it.
Scott and God apparently had their signals crossed. Tracy filed the papers and the divorce was finalized the following spring, with Scott ordered to pay $650 in monthly child support. Instead, he stopped working, claiming he had injured a shoulder, and signed his property over to his parents.
At the time she filed for divorce, Tracy had estimated the couple was worth several million dollars. Now she had to declare bankruptcy; her children qualified for the school's free-lunch program.
But Scott was concerned with babies other than his own: God wanted him to stop abortions, he announced.
The Planned Parenthood clinic at 20th and Vine became his favorite local target. Alongside "disciples" like Clifton Powell, whom he let live in a house "owned" by his parents, and Leon "Joe" Gonzales, a convicted armed robber, Scott would stand at the clinic entrance and scream hellfire and damnation at patients and staff alike.
Sometimes he'd put up visiting anti-abortion crusaders, such as Texan Daniel Raymond Ware, a member of the Pro-Life Action Network who'd been arrested for possession of firearms, theft, larceny, DUI and trespassing and was currently wanted by the police. Sometimes Scott was the one traveling to protests across the country, networking with others in the anti-abortion movement.
Several area clergymen began getting strange letters from him, in which Scott would identify himself as the second witness--the first is Jesus--and warn them to prepare for the end of the world. In one missive, he warned a minister not to give away "the secret" at an upcoming service because a mysterious "they" would be watching and the time was not yet ripe.
In August 1991, Scott drove his van onto the lawn of one of his tenants, Michael Munson, who lived in the house with his wheelchair-bound wife. Although Scott had once told Munson God said he could live there rent-free, now Scott wanted to collect.
When Munson said he didn't have the money, Scott spit on him and began hitting the much smaller man and kicking him after he fell to the ground. When the police arrived, Scott, who had been raving a moment before, suddenly became calm as church air, politely cooperating with the officers as they arrested him for felony assault.
Munson was taken to the hospital. Scott was taken to the Arapahoe County jail, where he promptly went on a hunger strike because of what he called religious persecution by his jailers. "What wrong with dying for a cause?" he wrote to a sympathizer. He stayed on his hunger strike even after he was told that the felony-assault charge had been dropped to a misdemeanor because no weapon was involved and Munson had fully recovered. Scott could now bail himself out, but he decided to stay "and fight it all the way." He demanded a jury trial and said he would represent himself.
After Scott had dropped thirty pounds, Arapahoe County officials were so alarmed they transferred him to the Colorado Mental Health Institute for evaluation. Again Scott was diagnosed as bipolar, but this time he refused to take any medication. On August 31, he escaped by jumping on top of an air-conditioning unit and going over the roof.
Scott showed up right on time for his trial, however, accompanied by his followers. He placed pictures of Jesus, Tracy and the children on the defense table alongside a Bible.
He told the judge he didn't recognize his authority because he reported to a higher authority: God. Apparently not impressed, the judge postponed the trial and ordered Scott to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
In October 1991 Scott appeared at the Aurora Community Mental Health Center for evaluation. The result was not flattering: "It should be noted that throughout all the tests, Mr. Scott self-protectively denies any shortcomings and attempts to project an image of having no difficulties or problems."
"When I really lose my temper, I am capable of slapping someone," Scott told his evaluator, "and if I have to resort to physical violence to defend my rights, I will."
According to the evaluation, Scott "is a defensive, intensively resistant person who attempts to present a socially acceptable front. He is an egocentric man with an inflated sense of self-importance which hides his concerns about his self-worth.
"He is socially intolerant of others and identifies global and national issues to fuel his anger and justify his position. He refers in the interview to 'the blind and stupid general population' as a way of pushing others down while seeming to himself to be superior to them.
"Mr. Scott has had difficulties with his anger especially when he is not able to control or manipulate the situation. These feelings of powerlessness are frustrating and produce anger."
The evaluator also added a new diagnosis to go with bipolar: narcissistic personality disorder.
The evaluator recommended that Scott receive anger-control counseling on an outpatient basis.
Tracy was now dating Bob, a successful businessman, and she'd borrowed his Jeep to move some boxes to a new house. Somehow Scott found the address and showed up.
Scott walked into the garage and spotted the Jeep and a Porsche that Tracy was keeping for a traveling business associate. "Whose cars are they?" he demanded. "Where is he?" He kicked in the Jeep's side panel, then grabbed a bat and went over to the Porsche, stopping only after Tracy pleaded with him.
Bob and Tracy decided not to press charges if Scott agreed to pay for the damage. He did. Then, days later, Scott decided he wanted the money back and demanded a jury trial.
Again, he showed up in court accompanied by his anti-abortion cohorts. This time his defense was to claim that Tracy had damaged the car. He was found guilty, fined $205 and sentenced to 180 days in jail, 170 of which were suspended.
After pleading guilty to simple assault in the Munson case, Scott was soon back in jail, sentenced to four months in Arapahoe County.
And while still in Arapahoe County jail, Scott was found guilty of trespassing earlier that year on Planned Parenthood property at 20th and Vine--the first of more than two dozen arrests he'd accumulate at abortion clinics over the next five years.
In July 1992 Scott started taking his children to abortion protests. Tracy had been forced by the courts to let her ex-husband have unsupervised visitation with the girls for the month; now he put them to work for the cause, carrying signs showing the bloody remains of fetuses.
Tracy hired a lawyer. That August, Judge Jack L. Smith, on the recommendation of a social worker, told Scott he couldn't take his children to anti-abortion protests. Having the children at rallies, where Scott was "in danger of arrest," would be detrimental to their physical and emotional health, the judge determined.
"I'm going to defy the court," Scott responded. "I'm going to take them with me everywhere I go...I'm going to do with my children as I see fit." He also served a restraining order "from God" on the judge.
"I put the Lord above everything--my mother, my family, my children," Scott said. "There are 30 million babies killed in this country...and the Lord wants me out there as a witness."
He wasn't trying to infringe on Scott's free-speech rights or his rights as a parent, the judge replied. Scott could take his kids to church, the judge said, but not to rallies.
Scott refused to budge. The judge terminated all visits with the children.
In early 1993 Scott was hauled back before Judge Michael Bieda to face a contempt-of-court charge for being $9,750 in arrears in child support. Scott argued that he couldn't work because of his injured shoulder. Noting that Scott had a college degree, a real estate license and talent as a home remodeler--not to mention enough physical stamina to enthusiastically picket abortion clinics--Bieda declined to accept that excuse. He sentenced Scott to six months in jail.
While in jail, Scott sued both Judge Bieda and Judge Smith. He also mailed several letters to his children, which Tracy intercepted.
As on all his correspondence with the courts, Scott had written anti-abortion messages on the envelopes addressed to his children: "Abortion Kills Babies!" "Abortion is Murdering Children!" "Judges say, Abortion is OK." "God will Judge the Judges!!!"
More worrisome was what Tracy found inside the envelopes. "I think this summer should be very exciting and interesting," Scott wrote in one letter. "I told...about one option of where we might sneak away for this summer, but if you girls would like to go somewhere else we can trade to that spot. One of the other places I've mention to you girls is Hawaii."
To Tracy, it sounded like Scott was plotting to kidnap them.
By now Scott knew that Tracy was engaged to Bob. But that didn't prevent him from writing: "I pray that mommy starts changing, so she'll try to get along a little bit better. I know it takes time, but God will change her heart, so she'll be good toward me again."
Soon after he got out of jail, Scott appeared at the house to drop off sleeping bags as presents for the girls. When Tracy told him to leave, he spit on her. He didn't care if she called the police, he said; he'd just go preach to the other inmates.
He showed up again the next day. "You're chattel. We're not divorced...you still belong to me."
"Is that a threat?" Tracy asked.
"You can take it any way you want to," he replied. "You will be condemned by God and punished. I have permission from God to ruin you."
He then spit on her again, Tracy told police, and repeated that they were "like Romeo and Juliet."
On June 14 Scott called and said he wanted to send the girls to religious camp. When Tracy replied that they'd already made summer plans, he threatened to come after her.
"I'm going to take the girls, and you better pray for help," he said, according to notes Tracy scribbled during the conversation. "You will be stoned to death for adultery...You will have to battle for your life." She would have to shoot him to stop him, he said.
Tracy again called the police. When a detective contacted Scott and told him about his ex-wife's report that he'd been harassing her, Scott angrily denied threatening Tracy or spitting on her. Scott said he was "not going to make things easy for me," the detective reported, and complained that "the system was unfair and godless."
He was not afraid of going to jail, Scott said several times. As for his child-custody problems, "he said God was leading him to work out the issues without an attorney," the detective noted.
The detective warned Scott that he had to leave Tracy alone. "I can't do that," he replied, "because I want her to repent."
In 1990 Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue and a protege of Scheidler, came to Boulder to "pray" in front of Hern's clinic. As clinic staffers videotaped the event, Terry asked God for Hern to be executed. (The tape would become part of a 60 Minutes broadcast in February 1992.)
Terry's "prayer" frightened Hern more than anything else in the preceding twenty years. These people called themselves pro-life, yet they were asking God--and whoever God appointed to do the dirty work--for his death.
"In reality, Terry is just another fascist demagogue who motivates a lot of vicious people to be violent," says Hern. "He's driven by power and hatred and rage. He claims to be nonviolent but then urges other people, unbalanced people, to kill and destroy." And the Republican Party made it possible, Hern adds.
In 1988 Reagan had invited Scheidler to the White House to plead his case for pardoning abortion-clinic bombers. Although the president didn't pardon the criminals, his wining and dining of Scheidler, which continued every year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, lent credibility to the anti-abortion movement. Vice President George Bush continued the trend when, just prior to his landslide election to the presidency, he said that abortion doctors should be put in prison.
Bush may have been catering to the Christian right to win votes, but Hern feared that this was more than political maneuvering. The message dropped like a stone into a pond, and the ripples reached out to the radical fringe elements. From Reagan and Bush to Scheidler and Terry to nuts with guns and bombs. How long before someone died, Hern wondered.
Once again Hern, who'd received his epidemiology Ph.D. in 1988, was relieved when he could leave the abortion battle behind and return to the Peruvian Amazon. In June 1991 he went there to help fight a cholera epidemic that had already taken the lives of some of his friends.
The outbreak of the disease, which spread through contaminated water, could be directly attributed to a dramatic increase in the population without corresponding public health endeavors. Pucallpa, the 1961 frontier town, had experienced a tenfold jump in its population in thirty years.
"The Shipibo have occupied the region of the Pisqui and lower Ucayali and have survived there well for a thousand years or more without boiling their water," Hern wrote in a report to regional health officials. "Boiling it and observing strict hygiene for water and food is very difficult if not impossible in the conditions of greatly increased human populations, and some of the innocent customs may now be fatal."
It was sad to see other effects of the population surge. Much of the jungle, along with its edible plants, had disappeared. Fish were scarce and malnutrition rampant--there were just too many mouths to feed. And malnutrition left the people vulnerable to disease.
Yet for all the hardship they faced there, Eleodoro Maynas worried about his friend returning to Boulder. "Stay. Why go back?" he asked. "You're needed here. Politics are bad."
Hern smiled and gave the same answer that he gave in Colorado when asked why he put up with the abuse: "Because it matters."
In December 1992 part of Hern's doctoral work was published in Natural History, along with many of his photographs of the Shipibo. "A larger question raised by studies such as mine is whether we really understand how fast the world's population is growing and will grow in the future," he wrote. "There was a time, long past, when it took 100,000 years for world population to double. Soon after agriculture was invented, the doubling time dropped to 700 years. Now our population is doubling every 35 to 40 years.
"For me, there are few things as delightful as the sound of Shipibo children laughing. The Shipibo love their children and it shows...But the inexorable arithmetic of population growth is upon them, and the consequences for their environment and families are plain to see."
On March 10, 1993, the event Hern had predicted would happen, had feared would happen, finally did. Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed as he left his Florida clinic. His murderer, Michael Griffin, had stepped from a line of "pro-life" picketers.
Gunn, too, had believed that what he did mattered. Commuting by car and plane to places where no other doctors were willing to do the procedure, he'd performed abortions in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
At his trial in early 1994, Griffin's lawyers argued that their client's mind had been warped by anti-abortion propaganda films. Griffin made no apologies. Convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, he said: "If only one little baby is saved, it is worth anything they can do to me, including taking my life."
After Gunn's death, Hern asked his staff to start documenting all calls to the clinic. It was a daunting, often frightening, task.
"How can you kill babies? You shouldn't work for a murderer. God will judge you...Save yourself."
"This killing can't go on forever. You will be held accountable."
In the days before Pope John Paul II's scheduled visit to Denver in August 1993, the calls become more extreme. "I'm going to come down there and blow that fucking place up," one caller announced.
A piece by Hern appeared in the August 13 New York Times. "This week, I began wearing a bulletproof vest to work. I am not a policeman setting out to raid crack houses. I am a doctor who does abortions," he wrote. "The reason I wear body armor is that Pope John Paul II is visiting Denver, attracting legions of anti-abortion activists."
Noting that Denver Archbishop J. Francis Stafford was attempting to quell anti-abortion demonstrations so as not to detract from the Pope's visit, Hern added that it wouldn't be easy. "The Pope and his bishops have so harshly attacked abortion for so long, it has created a climate of permission for the most radical activists," he said. "Now, the church does not wish to take responsibility for the unpredictable, violent consequences of its rhetoric."
After reading Hern's piece, Randall Terry called Hern a "vulgar baby killer" on his syndicated radio show. "I hope someday he is tried for crimes against humanity, and I hope he is executed," said the Operation Rescue founder.
On August 14, Michael Griffin's former minister told his Birmingham, Alabama, congregation that the murder of abortion doctors was "justifiable homicide."
A day later, the doctor who had replaced Gunn at the clinic was found murdered in Birmingham. That crime has never been solved.
Denver-based talk-show host Bob Enyart used his syndicated show to repeatedly attack Hern and even published a magazine called How Warren Hern Does His Killing.
"When I showed this to a visiting psychologist in my office," Hern says, "I asked her, 'What do you think that the author of this headline wants the reader to do after he or she reads this?'
"She said, 'Kill you.'"
The calls to Hern's clinic got worse. On August 19, one stubborn caller who'd initially pretended she wanted an appointment finally admitted, "I want to know why the doctor kills the babies."
When the receptionist tried to get her name and telephone number, the woman replied, "I'm not going to tell you, bitch!" Another woman in the background yelled, "Tell the doctor he's a fucking asshole."
When Dr. George Tiller arrived at his Wichita clinic that same day, Oregon anti-abortion activist Shelly Shannon broke from the line of picketers and shot him in both arms.
Hern learned of the attack on his colleague from reporters, who were calling to get a comment. "Jesus," Hern says. "I thought about our trip to Berlin and I thought about his wife and family. He was my friend...I started crying."
Following Tiller's shooting, U.S. marshals were assigned to protect Hern for the next 72 hours. They were not pleased when the doctor told them he would be speaking at a candlelight ceremony on the steps of Boulder City Hall, and persuaded him to at least wear a bulletproof vest.
"Is it possible in the most pro-choice community in America," Hern asked the crowd that night, "for a doctor to walk a few blocks without armed guards to give a speech on the subject of abortion without the serious risk of assassination?
"The answer to that question is no. My next question is, 'Is this still America? And if not, why not?'"
Attending the ceremony that night was Mike Newell, who introduced himself to Hern. After seven years with the Denver Police Department, Newell had moved to California and started a business as a security consultant specializing in "stalker suppression." The key, Newell believed, was a proactive investigation--gathering evidence, such as violations of restraining orders, to make a court case, and intercepting the stalker before he got to the victim. Essentially, he advocated stalking the stalker.
Newell considered himself a "cause-motivated" professional: He wouldn't work for a cause or person he didn't believe in. And after he moved back to Denver in 1992, he was happy to take Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as a client, assessing its security precautions before the Pope's visit.
Newell quickly picked out Ken Scott as someone to watch. Compared with other demonstrators, he was aggressive and excessively angry; he also seemed to enjoy intimidating people.
More alarming, Scott had repeatedly left the comfort of his particular group of disciples to strike out on his own. According to psychological profiling, independent actors are the most dangerous. Shelly Shannon, for example, had left her Oregon group and flown halfway across the country to shoot Tiller.
Newell gathered as much information as he could from Scott's friends, past and present. He heard the stories about the delight Scott took in stalking, and about his excellent marksmanship.
After the candlelight ceremony, Newell and Hern agreed to talk again regarding the doctor's security measures. "I was feeling very vulnerable," Hern recalls. "It felt good to have an ally, somebody who understood the mentality of these people and would do something about it. It felt empowering."
In November, Congress passed legislation making it a federal crime to assault patients and health workers at abortion clinics. Within a hundred feet of a clinic, protesters were also prohibited from coming within eight feet of patients or employees.
That same month, Hern got a call from a staffer at a Buffalo, New York, clinic. They were worried about a particularly obnoxious group of protesters who'd shown up there in a van with Colorado license plates. A couple of weeks later, a woman from Tiller's Wichita clinic called. What, she asked, did Hern know about a tall, angry man named Ken Scott?
August 1993 was a busy time for Scott. Already in trouble with the police for stalking his ex-wife, on August 10 he was charged with assaulting a woman at a gathering for the Pope. (He was convicted in April 1994.)
The next day he was again arrested, this time at the Planned Parenthood clinic at 20th and Vine. A Denver judge had granted the clinic a temporary restraining order during the Pope's visit; Scott had violated it.
When he refused to pay a $1,000 fine for the violation, Scott was sentenced to ten days in jail. He was out in plenty of time, however, for a jaunt to Kansas and points east.
In January 1994, Scott was convicted of stalking and harassing his ex-wife--"a Jezebel" and his "chattel," who would be committing adultery if she remarried, he told the court. His sentencing was set for May; in the meantime he was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, during which he denied ever hitting his wife.
"Mr. Scott does demonstrate a personality style that makes it difficult for him to recognize any faults in himself," the psychologist reported. "He believes that his problems are unique and can only be understood by himself and other religious people and is preoccupied with finding fault and placing blame on others.
"The examiner remains quite concerned about this defendant's access to weapons," the psychologist concluded, adding that he was "concerned about the possibility that this defendant's anger, combined with his religious beliefs, in respect to his anti-abortion stand, could lead to some extreme lethality on the part of the defendant."
On May 1, Newell delivered his own report on Scott to Planned Parenthood. Scott's actions at the 20th and Vine clinic were becoming increasingly belligerent, and clinic officials wanted to ask the courts for help. Lately, Scott had been directing his rage at a clinic counselor who helped coordinate the volunteer escorts in the parking lot. When the woman signed a trespassing complaint against Scott on behalf of the clinic, he had taken it as a personal affront and began threatening to "get" her and her family. Once he'd even followed her home.
Newell had talked with Denver police officer Alta Metzinger, who'd responded to numerous clinic complaints about Scott. "It is obvious that Mr. Scott is more boisterous and belligerent because the neighbors are signing complaints more than the clinic staff now," she told Newell. "He is really losing it. He may blow up and become more violent any day now."
Newell concluded: "Subject displays Stalker behavior, in that he uses his 'cause' to omnipotently justify his lawlessness. The danger in this pattern...is that religiously motivated fanatics historically evolve from passive lawful behavior to civil disobedience and subsequently to violent assault on property and persons...which has been witnessed throughout this country, i.e., arson, murder."
With Newell's report in hand, Planned Parenthood officials went to court on behalf of the counselor being harassed by Scott. Although Scott's threats had been veiled in his usual Biblical prose, they were enough to convince a judge to issue a permanent restraining order. Scott was to remain at least a hundred feet from the counselor. That meant he could no longer protest in front of the clinic where she worked, so Scott moved two blocks to 18th Avenue and Vine.
Later that month, Scott was sentenced to five and a half months in jail for stalking his ex-wife. He was still behind bars on July 30, 1994, when former minister Paul Hill blasted away at the same Florida clinic where Gunn had been killed. This time, Dr. John Britton and his volunteer escort, Lieutenant Colonel James Barrett, were killed. Barrett's wife was wounded.
At trial, Hill, who represented himself, called the attack "justifiable homicide." The jury convicted him of first-degree murder.
"You have a responsibility to protect your neighbor's life and to use force, if necessary, to do so," Hill said after his conviction. The jury promptly sentenced him to die in the electric chair.
Scott might be in jail, but Newell wasn't through with him. He contacted Tracy and asked to speak with her about her ex-husband. She had already talked to agents of the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and even the IRS about Scott. After discussing it with Bob, she agreed to meet Newell.
She told him her story, then added that she planned to marry Bob in August. She worried that Scott would try to stop it. His actions were just so bizarre. Scott's parents had taken a video of their grandchildren and given it to Scott to mail to Tracy. Instead, he substituted an anti-abortion tape, featuring "daddy" screaming outside clinics.
"I think he's going to kill me," she told Newell. "I don't know if I'll live to see my wedding day."
Newell promised to help.
Tracy's fears seemed justified when, five days before the wedding, Scott's parents posted a $50,000 bond to get him out of jail pending an appeal. Previously, he had told the court he was destitute.
Scott's probation officer called Tracy to warn her. She spent the next few days living in a motel with her daughters. On her wedding day, she used a rental car to reach the hotel where the ceremony was to take place so that Scott wouldn't recognize the vehicle. True to his word, Newell had posted bodyguards on the grounds, and the Arapahoe County sheriff placed deputies in the neighborhood and snipers on the hotel roof.
The wedding went on undisturbed.
By now, Scott had a new target: a Denver abortion doctor who was Jewish--his religion alone was an "abomination," according to Scott. Scott and Clifton Powell showed up at the doctor's synagogue while services were in progress. As Powell moved about the room shoving a video camera into people's faces, Scott tried to engage the congregation in a debate about the difference between Judaism and Christianity.
"At one point," says Newell, who was there to provide security for the doctor, "Powell went up to one little old lady and started videotaping her. She rolled back her sleeve to show the numbers tattooed on her arm from a concentration camp. She told Powell, 'You can't intimidate me.'"
After that, Scott seemed to tire of harassing the Denver doctor.
When he returned from another trip to the Peruvian Amazon in August 1994, Hern found a letter waiting for him:
"Doctor: As you must be acutely aware, there is an underground network forming that is monstrously contagious. The objective: to stop the murderous medical and non-medical persons such as yourself blatantly interfering with the right to life of innocents in the womb.
"What with the pro-choice feminist groups and their ilk, the evil government objectives and hidden agendas, certain Americans have decided that we too can be pro-choice. Pro-choice enough to take out a number of you abortionists at the same time all around the country no matter where you are. You have been selected by a random poll and fit all the criteria needed to qualify for this event.
"Careful to take note, bullet-proof vests are not enough to protect guilty murderers. There are other areas on the body that invite fatal wounds...
"All abortion laws are unjust, therefore ALL abortionists are fair game. It's a simple concept growing...All Hell is going to break loose and you will have a front row seat!"
Two months later Hern's old nemesis, Joe Scheidler, suddenly reappeared in Boulder, this time accompanied by several of Scott's cohorts, including Powell and David Lane, a 25-year-old twice-convicted felon. The group spent several days outside Hern's clinic, with Scheidler shouting through a bullhorn: "Warren Hern has got to go. Warren Hern is an evil man. His eyes are evil."
When Scheidler left the state, Scott took his place. And where Scott was, Newell was, too.
On November 25, 1994, while Lane videotaped from the top of the van, Scott stood in front of the clinic and began screaming for Hern. The doctor got his own video camera and started taping, opening the door just enough to film the action but ready to slam it shut if Scott pulled a weapon. After the 1988 shooting, Hern had replaced all the windows with bullet-proof glass.
As Scott screamed, Newell prepared to jump to Hern's defense. Boulder cops placed themselves between the clinic and Scott.
Hern had listened to a lot of angry rhetoric since 1973, but Scott was something else. "He screamed like some kind of rabid animal," he recalls. "There was spit coming out with the words."
"Fourteen years ago, I paid for an abortion," Scott screeched. "I cheated on my wife twice to get even with her...Those police officers can't save you, Warren. You better repent. Those officers can't escape death...
"It's too late for the doctors in Florida. God loves you enough to let you still be here to hear this message. God hasn't snuffed you out yet, Warren. I don't believe in killing abortionists, but 'vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord."
Four days later, Scott and his companions returned. "Warren, how many days do you have left?" Scott shouted. "The Lord showed me you have less than one year. One year and He's gonna take your life.
"God's law is above man's law. Warren, how many days do you have left? You won't have Michael Newell to defend you! How much longer before the Lord brings justice, because His law is above man's law. It's above Warren Hern."
Scott ended with the admonition that "my children have warned you." Did Scott now think he was God? Newell wondered.
On December 10, Scott was sentenced to ninety days in Denver County Jail for violating a court order to stay at least 100 feet from the entrance of any abortion clinic; part of the evidence used to lock him up was Hern's videotape.
Twenty days later, John Salvi walked into two Boston abortion clinics and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. He wounded seven people and killed two young women, one of whom begged for her life before he pumped ten bullets into her. He wasn't caught until the next day, when he shot 23 bullets into a Norfolk clinic. (Salvi's lawyers tried to argue that he was insane; a jury sentenced him to life.)
The night of the Boston murders, Bob Enyart used his TV show to attack abortion providers, specifically naming Hern. "According to people who called me from around the country," Hern says, "the two most common words used on the program were my last name and 'kill.'"
Hern's clinic is located across from Boulder Community Hospital. The doctor had long before stopped using his front door for fear of being assassinated by someone in the line of protesters on the sidewalk. Now, every time he left by the clinic's back door, he looked up at the hospital's parking garage. He remembered what Newell's report had said about Scott's expert marksmanship.
Once safe at home, Hern worked on a report he says he was asked to submit to the Department of Justice. (Scott's lawyer, John Winston, would later claim that Hern initiated the report, in order to get the federal government to take action against his client.) In the report, Hern noted that between securing his building and hiring extra security personnel, "the costs of protecting ourselves from anti-abortion harassment and violence has cost well over $1 million during the past fifteen years.
"Because of the Boston killings, we must assume all anti-abortion demonstrators are armed and dangerous and will kill anyone seen entering or leaving the building," Hern continued. "Anti-abortion activity has long since passed the level of peaceful demonstrations of people expressing their point of view. This is no longer about free speech. It is about behavior that is meant to inflict pain, terror, intimidation, and, in some cases, death...There being no deterrence...authorities must recognize that the only protection at this point is self-defense, and many of us are prepared to shoot back.
"This is a prescription for civil war, which is what is happening, except that one side is still holding its fire."
On January 22, 1995, the American Coalition of Life Activists held a press conference in Washington, D.C., where they handed out a pamphlet naming a "dirty dozen" abortion doctors. Hern was on the list.
A coalition spokesman denied that the list was intended to promote violence, instead claiming that it was a way of "encouraging peaceful methods of exposure."
Federal law enforcement agencies didn't buy it. Within minutes of the coalition's announcement, Hern received calls at home from the Boulder police department and the Gilpin County sheriff, along with the FBI, the BATF and the U.S. Marshal's office, which again placed him under 24-hour protection.
Marshals came along to the graduate anthropology class he was teaching the next night at CU. "There were more cops in the room than there were students," Hern says, laughing, but quickly grows angry again. "The Mafia has more decency and ethics than these people. At least they keep their 'hit list' secret. They don't torture people for months or years before they kill them."
Newell was so worried about Scott that he decided to get a second opinion. The security specialist submitted a box of materials--including videotapes taken at Hern's clinic, police reports and arrest records, as well as letters from Scott to his ex-wife--to clinical psychologist John Nicoletti, one of the country's top experts on stalking.
"Suspect appears to be the leader of the group that was protesting in front of the clinics," Nicoletti reported. "Suspect appears to be very determined and intense in his feelings regarding abortions and doctors who perform abortions. He appears to utilize religion as a means of justifying his feelings and actions."
Nicoletti concluded that Scott's history and behavior indicated a "risk to his targets."
Hern also had his supporters. In February, 150 people--including many of the state's most prominent Democratic politicians--signed their names to a full-page ad that decried "the climate of escalating violence against physicians...Warren, we support you and pray for your welfare."
On March 17, while Hern attended a political fundraiser, his pager began beeping. The federal marshals wanted to put him under protection again.
"They had information that some people were driving out from Maryland intending to kill me," Hern says. "They were supposedly in a car full of weapons and explosives."
They never arrived.
That summer, Hern returned to the Peruvian Amazon. It was relaxing to be just a plain old family doctor making housecalls by canoe. He felt safer here than anywhere outside his mountain home.
But Hern noticed that where once he had been kept awake at night by the sound of wild animals, now he was kept awake by noise from motorized fishing boats. And he was worried about a slight cough that Maynas had developed. However, X-rays of his friend's lungs showed nothing wrong; Hern thought it was probably just some jungle bug.
Ken Scott was in front of Hern's clinic on October 6, 1995, when Boulder detective Greg Idler tried to talk with him; Scott had just gotten out of jail on charges of disturbing the peace. Suddenly Scott started yelling, an incomprehensible ranting "in a strange tongue" as he held his Bible in the air and looked toward the sky. When Idler walked on, Scott calmed down as quickly as he had gone off.
Westword spoke with Scott a few weeks later, at his standard spot at 18th Avenue and Vine. His cohort, David Lane, was in jail for breaking into the Planned Parenthood clinic two blocks away. After his arrest, Lane had said he would shoot an abortion doctor if God asked him to. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
Neighbors who'd tried to talk with Scott had found there was no room for debate--only dogma. Conversations would quickly turn into screaming matches, or spontaneous prayers to "save this sinner," or even the occasional fistfight.
With Westword, Scott launched into a diatribe about the true meaning of the increase in erupting volcanoes, killer earthquakes and other natural disasters. God was angry about abortions, he said. "Why else are there so many hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico this year?"
Looking east at the oncoming traffic, as though he expected the Second Coming to arrive any minute from the direction of City Park, he pronounced: "The end is near."
And it was even nearer for Hern, according to Scott. "Hern has less than a year to live," he said, eleven months after he first told Hern the same thing. "That's not a threat. But the Lord has shown me that Hern has less than 365 more days."
A federal marshal and an FBI agent contacted Scott soon after; they were concerned about his comments regarding Hern. Scott denied that he intended to harm the doctor, and expressed his own concerns that "agents" of Planned Parenthood were involved in violent activities against anti-abortion protesters. The federal lawmen worked out an arrangement with Scott in which he agreed to notify the marshal in advance of any anti-abortion activities.
Apparently Scott didn't think that included all of his activities. Later that month, Aurora police investigator Roy Minter called Hern and told him Scott was trying to locate his house in rural Gilpin County. When Minter asked why he'd been looking for Hern's residence, Scott replied, "I was trying to warn him that he doesn't have much time left."
On December 10, Gilpin County undersheriff John Bayne called Hern. After finding a white cross on Hern's lawn and anti-abortion posters tacked to nearby utility poles, Bayne had found Scott less than a quarter-mile from Hern's home. Hern's heart sank at the news; for over two decades he'd done his best to keep his enemies away from his only refuge. "It was the equivalent of a death sentence," Hern says. "I had nothing left that was mine."
A week later Hern was contacted by Boulder County prosecutor Jan Rundus. "They were concerned that in light of everything that had just happened...that Scott was getting more dangerous," Hern says. "She asked me to come down to sign a document to have him evaluated for mental illness.
Hern left the clinic, only to be "followed by that son of a bitch in his truck," he says. "I was terrified and had to ditch him."
He managed to reach the Boulder County courthouse safely. There a judge issued an order for Scott's arrest and involuntary commitment to a mental health institution based on a motion by Rundus and supported by an affidavit from Hern.
Colorado law authorizes the involuntary commitment of a person to a mental facility for a 72-hour evaluation upon a finding by a court that such an individual is gravely disabled and/or a threat to himself and/or others.
At the Gilpin County courthouse, Hern swore out a similar affidavit and was granted a temporary restraining order against Scott. "I believe that Kenneth Scott's condition has rapidly deteriorated in these past few months and that it will continue to deteriorate," Hern said. "I believe that he is a danger to others and perhaps gravely disabled as a result of his mentally ill, religious obsessions with me and the abortion rights issue."
On December 20, Scott was arrested and taken to the Boulder County Mental Health Center. There he was served with the temporary restraining order and told to appear at the Gilpin County courthouse two weeks later to defend himself against Hern's request for a permanent restraining order.
Scott was transported to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan for further evaluation. Upon his arrival, Dr. G. Qwick determined that Scott had homicidal thoughts and was a threat to defendant Hern.
On December 21 Scott was evaluated again, this time by Dr. Alan Levy. "The patient is a tall, handsome man who was very cordial and cooperative during the interview...fairly intense, and having a particular ax to grind that very much colored the interview. In other words, he said he was here on a mission: to promote his views against abortion, and he seemed to want to get his message across to me.
"He told of how he had been in some trouble in his earlier years, being hospitalized for depression, being hospitalized here after hitting someone, and having difficulty with his ex-wife and his loss of custody of his children...but that he had worked through God on his theological and philosophical positions.
"He was now a born-again Christian, who feels called by God to point out the evils of abortion and will go to legal extremes to test the system and try to effect change, but who is a pacifist, and is against all violence."
As for telling Hern that he didn't have long to live, Scott explained to his evaluator "that he meant that we will all die relatively soon and meet our maker and be judged, and he wants the doctor to repent first."
Levy thought that Scott was bipolar, but Scott refused to take any medication that might help determine if that was an accurate diagnosis.
The next day Dr. David Graybill, the facility's chief psychiatrist, evaluated Scott. He concluded that the patient was a danger to himself, a danger to others and gravely disabled.
Graybill certified that Scott be involuntarily committed for 90 days for further evaluation; Scott was also told he would be involuntarily forced to take psycho-active drugs. Scott was advised he had a right to a hearing before a judge and jury; a trial date was set for February 5.
John Winston, Scott's attorney, planned to use the trial to prove a conspiracy between doctors and law enforcement officials. He would challenge Hern's "insupportable conclusions about all anti-abortion demonstrators being thugs and terrorists," Winston claimed. "Hern's behavior suggests that Hern suffers from irrational fears." Some of his witnesses, he promised, would offer an alternative explanation for what Newell said was "stalking" behavior.
They never got the chance. On January 27, Bob Enyart broadcast a phone interview with Scott. The mental-health institute's switchboard was immediately deluged with telephone calls, many of them threatening, in support of Scott.
Three days later, Graybill reversed himself. "The past five weeks, Mr. Scott's psychiatric condition has been thoroughly and repeatedly examined," he wrote Boulder County District Judge Murray Richtel. "He has for the most part been calm and in control. At no time has he been assaultive, made verbal threats, or been threatening in demeanor. He repeatedly and emphatically denies any thoughts, plans, or intent (previous, current or future) to harm or kill Dr. Hern or anyone else."
Although Scott's statements that Hern has less than a year to live caused the doctor "understandable concern...(and I do believe that Mr. Scott at times likes to intimidate and frighten people), I could find no evidence that Mr. Scott has made a direct threat to the life or safety of Dr. Hern," Graybill concluded. "Furthermore, there is no evidence that Mr. Scott has threatened Dr. Hern with a weapon...
"At this time, it is my professional opinion that Mr. Scott does not meet the criteria for continued involuntary treatment. Though I recommended voluntary treatment to Mr. Scott, and he refused to accept it, the current amount and severity of psychiatric symptoms do not justify continued involuntary care and treatment."
Scott was released that afternoon.
Soon after his antagonist was set free, Hern got more bad news: Eleodoro Maynas was desperately ill. His cough had developed to the point that he could hardly speak; doctors suspected a particularly virulent form of tuberculosis.
There was little Hern could do beyond arranging for the best possible medical care; the hospital had refused to take his friend unless he could prove he could pay the bills.
A week later, Maynas was dead. Guilt washed over Hern. If he had been there, his friend might still be alive. Instead he'd been stuck in Boulder dealing with Ken Scott, a common hate-filled criminal, while a good and decent man lay dying.
"Basically, he died because he was a poor Indian," Hern says. "He was my very best friend for thirty years."
In June, Hern returned to the Peruvian Amazon to visit his friend's grave. He'd paid for a cement tomb and marker so that if the river altered its course, it would not disturb his friend's rest. Although he'd lost faith in Christianity as a college student, and the actions of Christian zealots in the ensuing years had done nothing to restore it, he'd embraced a spiritual connectedness with the natural world, "accepting that there are things that we can't or don't know."
A jungle grave was Maynas's destiny. Hern's destiny was thousands of miles to the north. He knew that now. His place was fighting to keep abortions legal.
And the fight was on in earnest.
At the Republican National Convention in San Diego the abortion issue dominated the first day. Even as moderates tried to paint a happy face of party unity and inclusion, anti-abortion activists were demanding that the party platform include the abolition of legal abortions. In the first row, the Oklahoma delegation held up placards with such messages as "Life--The First Inalienable Right."
Behind the scenes, there was Ken Scott. He greeted governors Pete Wilson and William Weld, of California and Massachusetts, as well as Maine senator Olympia Snowe, with a taste of what Colorado abortion clinics heard on a daily basis. "Abortion is murder," he screamed. "Why are you part of the Republican Party when you're breaking God's law? You won't be able to run and hide from God!"
As reporters and police rushed backstage and guards whisked the three politicians away, Scott got into a shouting match with some delegates. "You guys are libertines," one moderate yelled at Scott and his cohorts. "Get out of our party!"
Scott partied on.
On December 17 Winston filed a lawsuit on Scott's behalf that contends that Hern, Newell, the mental-health-institute doctors, prosecutor Rundus and the Boulder police had all used their positions to try to shut him up. The real reason for Scott's commitment, Winston argues, was a conspiracy to keep Scott from appearing at the January 2 Gilpin County hearing where Hern was granted a restraiing order that prohibits Scott from coming within a mile of him.
In the suit, Winston also claims that Hern used the report he sent to the Justice Department, "based on a slanted and misleading dossier" assembled by Newell, to target Scott for federal prosecution. (In fact, Scott had been subpoenaed the previous spring to appear before a federal grand jury investigating allegations that there was an organized conspiracy to assassinate abortion doctors.)
"At best, the Hern document shows that [Scott] is a fervent anti-abortion advocate," Winston argues, "even though in such document, Hern tries to falsely portray him as one of many assassins who are being influenced by conspirators who use the air-waves to broadcast a form of electronic fascism intended to cause listeners to execute abortion doctors."
According to the suit, "At no time did [Scott] have homicidal thoughts about defendant Hern nor did [Scott] ever threaten the life of Hern." Nor, during the 41 days Scott was incarcerated, did the doctors talk to any of Scott's family or friends to ascertain if they believed he was dangerous to anyone.
What's more, the suit argues, there was no mental health reason to commit Scott in the first place or to keep him after the psychiatrists had evaluated him. As a result, Scott has suffered injury to his health and also to his "rights of speech, liberty and due process."
Scott is asking more than $10 million.
Whatever injuries Scott suffered during his incarceration, they weren't severe enough to stop his anti-abortion activism. Although the restraining order prohibits him from coming within a mile--the distance a rifle bullet will travel--of Hern's clinic, he continues to hold down his corner at 18th and Vine, and to appear at the State Capitol to testify on behalf of bills submitted by anti-abortion legislators.
Scott does not represent the entire anti-abortion movement, Newell acknowledges. "Many, even most, of these people are doing this on religious or moral grounds," he says, "doing what their consciences tell them. I have absolutely no problem with that.
"But a lot of these guys who are so angry, who stand out there making these 'veiled' threats that they know and I know are meant to frighten people, these are guys who couldn't control the women in their own lives, so now they want to control the lives of all women."
Tracy is still convinced her ex-husband "will snap," Newell says. "She's absolutely terrified and from what I know about the stalker mentality, she has a right to be."
Scott is now almost $60,000 in arrears on his court-ordered child support. (A few weeks ago, a flier showed up at the State Capitol that had a photo of Scott carrying his "Abortion Kills Children" sign. The caption below read, "If abortion stays legal...who will I have to neglect? A message from Ken Scott, anti-abortion terrorist, father of three, and four years behind on his child support payments.")
On January 16, two bombs rocked an abortion clinic in Atlanta. The first went off when no one was around; the second exploded an hour later, injuring six people who had rushed to the scene, including federal agents, rescue workers and a TV cameraman.
Freshman representative Barry Arrington, a Republican lawyer from Arvada who ran billboard ads several years ago soliciting cases against abortion doctors, got angry when a reporter asked for his reaction to the bombing. "Your purpose is to connect me to the bombing because I support the right to life," he responded. "Lawlessness is reprehensible. I don't care who does it."
It was Arrington who introduced the bill to ban so-called partial-birth abortions that drew Scott to the legislature three weeks ago. Introducing the measure, Arrington described a near-term fetus delivered feet-first up to its neck, at which point the doctor collapses its head. He did not mention that the antiquated procedure is rarely, if ever, performed, and then only to save the life of the mother.
Despite his nearly three dozen arrests, Scott was treated politely, almost deferentially, by members of the State Affairs committee. His testimony went uninterrupted until he pronounced that the bodies of aborted fetuses were harvested to make cosmetics "for rich women." Even then, the challenges were reserved.
But when it was Hern's turn, he was required to testify under oath--a rare request not made of Scott. Hern, who testified against the bill even though he doesn't do the procedure, was repeatedly interrupted by Arrington and Representative Mark Paschall, the Arvada Republican who caused a stir last year when he offered a prayer composed by anti-abortion activists on the House floor. "I felt it was necessary to give Dr. Hern some incentive to tell the truth," Arrington said later.
A week later, the day of a hearing on a bill that would criminalize late-term abortions--another Arrington proposal--Scott stuck "Pro-Life Christian Coalition" leaflets with photographs of dismembered fetuses in the mailboxes of House members, angering many in the process.
Still, Paschall again insisted on putting Hern, and no one else, under oath. He tried to get the doctor to swear by an antiquated and seldom-used version of the oath that includes the words "by the Living God"; Hern swore only to "tell the truth."
That bill was defeated; the entire House is scheduled to vote on the partial-birth abortion measure this Friday.
For Hern, his treatment at the legislature was more proof that the separation between church and state no longer exists. "There are Christians of good conscience and legislators in both parties of goodwill," he says, "However, they're not the ones in power."
Those who scoff at his theory that the country is on the verge of a civil war over abortion should study history, he suggests. "The only difference between this and the slaughter of the Jews in Venice is a thousand years," he says. "The only difference between this and the Islamic jihad is 8,000 miles.
"This isn't about abortion. This is about people who think that they can tell everyone else how to think and what to believe. Once they've outlawed abortion and locked up abortion doctors, who will they go after next? People who write for newspapers? People who read books? Blacks? Jews? They hate freedom. They hate secular thought."
And they hate Hern, who is as fanatical about his cause as they are about theirs. He has paid a high price for his principles. His clinic is now surrounded by a high steel gate and boasts bulletproof windows and doors with heavy locks. Even so, some staffers cannot bear the emotional burden. "I just lost a superb nurse," Hern says. "She was terrified and came to me one morning in tears and said, 'I just can't take it anymore.'" Some banks won't cash Boulder Abortion Clinic paychecks. And although some doctors are very supportive and assist Hern when he needs help, there are still anti-abortion doctors ready to challenge his hospital privileges, "just waiting for me to slip up."
At his mountain home, he no longer feels he can go for a walk without taking along his rifle. "Sometimes I get quite frightened," he says. "I wake thinking I heard something. I'm afraid to check the telephone, thinking the lines may have been cut and that he's out there."
Hern is a lonely, isolated, man. He says he wants a family and someone to share his life with, but that hasn't worked out. As much as she liked him, one woman told him, "I could never take you home to my parents."
At times he thinks how much easier his life would have been if he'd pursued his first love of photography--the Sierra Club used his picture of a jaguar in the Peruvian Amazon on the cover of a calendar--or stayed in the jungle, living like Albert Schweitzer. But he knows he made the right choice.
"My practice matters to women and their families," he says. "And now these people, from Reagan to Scott and that son of a bitch Arrington, want to make it a crime against the state.
"The crime is freedom.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.
- Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana for Veterans
- Reader: Denver Is Full of Smokers and Beta Males Who Refuse to Grow Up
- Denver Health To Limit Patients Passively Enrolled In Its Medicaid Plan