Longform

The Fight of Their Lives

Page 23 of 23

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.

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Steve Jackson

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