A Colorado man’s unauthorized detention in a psychiatric hospital was the direct result of his opposition to abortion, say several U.S. pro-life officials.

Kenneth Scott of Denver, a long-time pro-life activist, was arrested December 20 and spent the next 42 days in the Boulder Community Hospital psychiatric ward. He was released without conditions January 30.

Scott plans to file a lawsuit against those who played a part in his detention.

Pro-lifers believe Scott’s detention was based solely on the testimony of Dr. Warren Hern, operator of the abortion clinic picketed weekly by Scott.

According to reports, Hern convinced county prosecutors that Scott was in a deteriorating mental condition. They in turn persuaded a judge to order Scott held for 72 hours observation.

Scott was on his was to a picket December 20 when he was stopped by Boulder police who served him with court papers. Although police told Scott that he was not being arrested, he was taken in handcuffs to a police car and delivered to Boulder Community Hospital for examination.

Despite conflicting reports from psychiatrists, Scott was served with a permanent restraining order and was scheduled for a jury trial to determine if he should be held indefinitely. Calling Scott a danger to himself and the community, the State of Colorado asked that Scott be committed to a mental facility for at least six months.

Supporters of Scott, including American Anti-Persecution League (AAPL) sprang to the defence. They cited Scott’s peaceful behaviour at pro-life demonstrations and speculated that the action was a form of intimidation. AAPL officials alerted the media to the situation and initiated a civil suit against the state for violating Scott’s First Amendment rights. Scott’s release came shortly after the AAPL intervention.

Officials with pro-life groups and the AAPL believe Scott’s detainment was clearly motivated for political purposes. They expressed concern that the holding of political opponents in mental institutions is a ploy straight out of Stalinist Russia.

Attorney James Rainbolt of the AAPL suggested that abortion clinic operators sought to have Scott confined to a mental institution because they had no legal course to stop the pro-life witnessing outside their business.

Scott meanwhile, is relieved to be free once again. He hopes to resume picketing at the abortion clinic.