Wash. man accused of threatening Colorado abortion doctor
DENVER – A Washington man has been indicted for allegedly threatening family members of an employee at one of the few clinics in the country that performs late-term abortions.
Seventy-year-old Donald Hertz of Spokane, Wash., faces a charge of making an interstate threat and a charge of violating a 1994 law that protects access to reproductive health services.
An indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses Hertz of calling the Boulder Abortion Clinic, in Boulder, Colo., in June and threatening to kill family members of an employee. The employee was referred to in the indictment as “W.H.,” but it was unclear whether that referred to Dr. Warren Hern, who has operated the clinic since 1975.
Hertz made “statements indicating that individuals were planning to travel from the State of Utah to Boulder for the purpose of killing members of the family of W.H.,” the indictment states.
In an interview to be published in Esquire next month, Hern says he’s been dealing with death threats for nearly 40 years. Hern did not return a message seeking comment.
Hertz, who was arrested Wednesday, said little during an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno in Spokane. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear in court again on Oct. 8 in Denver.
His attorney, Russell Van Camp, said afterward that he had known Hertz for three decades.
“He is one of the finest people I have ever known,” Van Camp said.
Hertz has not been in legal trouble before regarding abortion, and will fight the charges, Van Camp said. Hertz faces up to six years in prison if convicted.
“He felt strongly about this doctor killing babies in Colorado,” Van Camp said.
The alleged threats happened June 23, nearly three weeks after the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated a late-term abortion clinic in Wichita. Tiller’s clinic was shuttered after his death.
Federal agents provided protection to Hern following Tiller’s slaying.
Associated Press Writer Nick Geranios contributed to this report from Spokane, Wash.
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