DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     February 4, 1999     vol. 10, no. 24

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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ABORTIONISTS WIN $100 MILLION JUDGMENT AGAINST PRO-LIFE GROUPS

          PORTLAND, Oregon (CWNews.com) - A federal jury on Tuesday awarded $107 million to Planed Parenthood and a group of abortionists who had claimed that a Web site and a series of "Wanted Posters" amounted to illegal death threats.

          The defendants -- a group of pro-life organizations and individuals -- had claimed that the Nuremberg Files web site and the posters fell within the protections of the First Amendment. They had said in court that site and posters were not death threats, but educational items declaring that abortionists could be considered guilty of crimes against humanity.

          "It's really just a statement from the court that says, 'Please shut up,'" said defendant Michael Bray. "It's an obscene assault upon the right to free speech. It says that when an abortionist cries out that he feels frightened by the speech of others, that the speakers should shut their mouths." The lawsuit was brought under the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which makes it illegal to incite violence against abortionists.

          Unlike previous cases brought under the 1994 law, this one did not involve any physical confrontations or explicit threats. Because of that, the pro-life activists contended the Internet site and the posters were protected by the First Amendment. But the plaintiffs said that the Web site marked off the names on its list of abortionists who were killed, making it into a death list.

          Some legal experts said the verdict is on shaky ground because US District Judge Robert Jones used a lesser standard than the Supreme Court, which said threats must be likely to cause "imminent lawless action."

          The plaintiffs now want an injunction shutting down the Web site. "We have no intention of squelching free speech," said plaintiff Dr. Elizabeth Newhall. "Free speech is not in jeopardy. Women and their providers are."


Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

February 4, 1999       volume 10, no. 24
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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