An abortion opponent was arraigned Thursday on charges of felony stalking and other misdemeanors after he targeted a physician at home and barged into the San Francisco health clinic where the physician works, frightening the doctor, patients and staff, District Attorney Chesa Boudin said.
Aaron Jonathan Hurley, 37, pleaded not guilty to charges that also included misdemeanor obstructing freedom of access to a clinic and vandalism. The Los Angeles resident is affiliated with the group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, Boudin said in a press release.
“Reproductive rights are under attack across the country — and here in San Francisco,” Boudin said. “Make no mistake: anyone who harasses, threatens, or interferes in any way with the constitutionally protected work of doctors and staff — who heroically provide care —will be held accountable.”
Allison Aranda, senior staff counsel with Life Legal Defense Foundation in Napa and Hurley’s attorney, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Boudin’s office said that Hurley and three others on March 14 used a decoy to get into the Women’s Options Center at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. When the nurse went to speak to a woman pretending to need counseling, the group barged into the clinic, began filming and chanting the doctor’s name along with: “We know who you are, we know what you do,” according to the press release.
That night, according to the press release, Hurley and the others went to the doctor’s home, placed stickers that said “a killer lives in your neighborhood” at neighbors’ houses and on the doctor’s front door. They also placed flyers with a QR code that led to a website naming the doctor, forcing the doctor to fear for their safety, the statement said.
The group also allegedly defaced a bronze statue of the Madonna and Child at the hospital the previous night, covering it with what looked like fake blood and stickers with the doctor’s name on it, said the DA’s office.
Two people both featured in the about section of the anti-abortion group’s website were cited and released after the hospital incident. The DA’s office has issued an arrest warrant for another member of the group. The investigation is ongoing.
The judge denied the office’s request for electronic monitoring and released Hurley with orders to stay away from the doctor, said Rachel Marshall, spokeswoman for Boudin’s office. The next court date is June 13.
A leaked copy of a draft opinion made public earlier this month indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling that guarantees people the right to terminate their pregnancy.