National Clinic Access Project
Wanted Posters Used to Threaten Doctors
Since the November 2008 elections, anti-abortion extremists have escalated their campaign of threats and violence against abortion providers nationwide. In Charlotte, North Carolina, extremists have distributed WANTED-style posters of four doctors who perform abortions, including stalking these doctors at their homes, beginning just two months after the May 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller.
Since the early 1990s, an undeniable pattern has emerged between the distribution of WANTED posters and the murder of the doctors named on the posters. Drs. Gunn, Britton and Tiller were all murdered by anti-abortion extremists; all had been featured on WANTED posters with their home and clinic addresses and in some cases, their photographs.
Wanted Poster Examples
The distribution of these kinds of WANTED posters are a clear violation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law (FACE) and a violation of state and federal anti-stalking laws. FACE provides criminal and civil penalties for anyone who “by force or threat of force … attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person because that person is or has been … providing reproductive health services.”These WANTED posters have been declared a “true threat” under FACE: in the ACLA case the federal court noted the fact that WANTED posters had preceded the murders of Drs. Gunn, Patterson and Britton, and emphasized that it was not the “language itself” that was threatening, but rather, it was the “use of the ‘wanted’-type format in the context of the poster pattern – poster followed by murder – that constitutes the threats.” Given this clear history and pattern, the court found that the posters sent a message of “You’re Wanted or You’re Guilty; You’ll be shot or killed.”