North Carolina Anti-Abortion Leader Tried for WANTED Posters
Flip Benham of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, goes to trial today for stalking and distributing WANTED posters with the names, pictures, and home and office addresses North Carolina abortion doctors. Benham, who distributed the WANTED posters in the doctors' neighborhoods and at their homes, is the first to be charged under a new North Carolina state law that bans residential picketing.
Katherine Spillar, Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) Executive Vice President responded to Benham's claim that he was exercising his First Amendment rights saying, "this is not free speech. This is the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. History clearly shows a pattern of WANTED posters, murder, WANTED posters, murder.
"These WANTED posters are communicating a threat to these abortion providers; doctors featured on WANTED posers in the past have become targets of anti-abortion extremists willing to kill, including most recently Dr. George Tiller." The WANTED posters in North Carolina appeared within two months of Dr. Tiller's murder. Spillar is an expert on clinic terrorism and leads the FMF's National Clinic Access Project.
WANTED-style posters have been found to violate the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act's (FACE) prohibitions on the use of force or threat of force against reproductive health care providers. Previous federal court decisions have classified WANTED posters as "true threats" within the meaning of the federal law.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has urged these WANTED posters be prosecuted by federal and state law enforcement authorities as violations of FACE and federal and state anti-stalking laws. Lawyers for the Feminist Majority Foundation are in Charlotte today to monitor the criminal trial. Both CBS and NPR have recently featured stories on the North Carolina anti-abortion WANTED posters.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation 11/8/10