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Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2011

Judge set to decide lawsuit over Kansas abortion doctor

June 16, 2011

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— A judge who decided against ordering an anti-abortion activist to stay away from an abortion doctor he allegedly threatened now must decide whether to throw out a lawsuit the U.S. Justice Department filed against the activist.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten is weighing whether to toss the lawsuit against Angel Dillard, which the department filed under a federal law aimed at protecting access to abortion services. The government contends the 44-year-old Valley Center woman sent a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means, a Wichita doctor who is training to offer abortion services at her practice.

Dillard wrote a rambling letter in January saying thousands of people from across the United States were looking into Means’ background: “They will know your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live. You will be checking under your car every day — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.”

Marten, calling the First Amendment the “absolute bedrock of this country’s freedom,” denied in April the government’s request for a preliminary injunction seeking to keep Dillard at least 250 feet away from the doctor. He said at the time that although Dillard’s letter was clearly meant to intimidate Means, it did not constitute a “true threat.”

The judge also ordered both sides to present written briefs before he sets a hearing on a defense request to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. A hearing date has not yet been set.

The last of those court pleadings was filed late Tuesday night — setting the stage for a courtroom showdown on the limits of First Amendment protections that will decide whether the Justice Department’s civil complaint survives.

Dillard’s defense attorney, Donald McKinney, argued in his filing that in order to comply with First Amendment safeguards the government must show that the speech consisted of more than intimidation and that the speaker intended to inflict bodily harm, rather than cause “merely anxiety or fear.”

“Angel Dillard is entitled to First Amendment protection,” McKinney wrote. “She has already paid dearly to defend herself from the government’s onslaught. The First Amendment should be eroded no further.”

The government contends Dillard’s speech is not protected by the First Amendment, arguing in a court document that the reference to explosives under the doctor’s car is impossible to downplay.

“It is the crux of the threat and presents a truly frightening image, and any attempt to minimize its importance as Defendant does is simply to ignore reality,” the Justice Department wrote. “Moreover, Defendant cannot hide her threat behind the guise of political statements.”

Abortions have not been openly performed in Wichita since Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers, was fatally shot in May 2009 by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder as the physician served as an usher at his Wichita church.

Comments

verity 2 years, 10 months ago

Last I heard, abortion was still legal.

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ivalueamerica 2 years, 10 months ago

and yet Most Bible thumpers simply ignore the fact that the Bible instructs priests to perform abortions on adulterous women.

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Agnostick 2 years, 10 months ago

"The government contends the 44-year-old Valley Center woman sent a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means, a Wichita doctor who is training to offer abortion services at her practice."


Assuming Means was smart enough to save both the letter and the envelope... whose name and address were on the envelope?

Was it sent to "Occupant?" Was it sent to "Current Resident?"

Or was it sent to "Dr. Mila Means?"

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm about as pro-life as it gets. I'm a Republican.

Having said that, Dillard's letter was threatening and meant to intimidate. Period. It's detestable that she wrote that in the name of pro-life.

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verity 2 years, 10 months ago

Question to someone with legal knowledge:

The article seems to make a difference between threatening and intimidating speech ("Dillard’s defense attorney, Donald McKinney, argued in his filing that in order to comply with First Amendment safeguards the government must show that the speech consisted of more than intimidation and that the speaker intended to inflict bodily harm, rather than cause 'merely anxiety or fear.'"

Can somebody clarify if there is a legal difference?

Obviously Ms. Dillard intended to influence Dr. Means' actions and keep her from doing something that is legal by making her afraid for her life.

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ksrush 2 years, 10 months ago

C'mon where are all the first amendment whackos now. Disagree ? Hypocrites

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Tristan Moody 2 years, 10 months ago

If someone had written something like to the president, the Secret Service would jump down their throat so fast the wouldn't have time to cough. To call this protected speech is one of the most idiotic defenses I've ever heard. It would take an olympic level of mental gymnastics to state that this isn't threatening or intimidating speech..

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 10 months ago

This is clearly not protected speech and she should be prosecuted for sending threats through the mail. She belongs in jail.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 10 months ago

@liberty275 "However, it’s not all one way – many celebrities have voiced support for legalized abortion or Planned Parenthood’s organizational goals. According to Life Decision International, actors and actresses such as Alan Alda, Gillian Anderson, Kevin Bacon, Alec and William Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, Kirsten Dunst, Lucy Liu, Rob Lowe and Paul Rudd support Planned Parenthood and/or legalized abortion. Meanwhile, musicians such as Ani Difranco, Cyndi Lauper, Barbara Streisand , Christina Aguilera, Iggy Pop and Lisa Loeb are also on Life Decision International’s list."

http://newmusicnews.org/kanye-west-and-justin-bieber-weigh-in-on-abortion

How can you possibly use as your avatar a creep who supports murdering babies?

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 10 months ago

Ms. Dillard certainly has the right to say these things about bombs under cars and monitoring movements and so forth.

Ms. Means also has the right to file an injunction under federal law that prohibits harassment of abortion clinics and providers.

Dillard's are clearly terror tactics designed to intimidate with threats of violence and harm.

Any rational human being must realize that these tactics have no place in modern society, even if they disagree with a woman's right to choose an abortion (or in the parlance of extremists, to murder her baby*).

*"Baby" in this case meaning a human embryo or fetus, and "murder" meaning to terminate a pregnancy, to destroy the embryo or fetus).

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Kate Rogge 2 years, 10 months ago

If we took abortion out of the case and just looked at the threats made, wouldn't that be enough to warrant an injunction to keep Dillard at least 250 feet away from the doctor? If I wrote to you and said "thousands of people from across the United States ... know your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live. You will be checking under your car every day — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.” wouldn't that be enough to take seriously? How is that protected free speech and not a serious threat from a disturbed person?

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 10 months ago

1029 (anonymous) says… "This article was confusing, but I think the main point here is that babies are being murdered and it needs to stop." ======= Sigh; they aren't babies and they aren't being murdered. Saying it is so doesn't change the laws and legal precedent. Clearly, this is the agenda. The R's want to outlaw abortion and even birth control. If they get their ways, maybe women will get pregnant so they can drive the HOV lanes in the city traffic. Carrying two 'people,' you know.......

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jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

So it's ok to intimidate people now?

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ClaroAtaxia 2 years, 10 months ago

The ironic part is that by their own religious beliefs, these types of people would indeed burn in hell in the afterlife. Almost makes you want to believe in one just for that! lol

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1029 2 years, 10 months ago

This article was confusing, but I think the main point here is that babies are being murdered and it needs to stop.

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MattyPro12 2 years, 10 months ago

And so it goes, right wing terror threats posing under the sham that is christian morals strikes again.

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autie 2 years, 10 months ago

If she saves a fetus and it turns out to be gay will she still advocate for that person rights?

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Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

"“Moreover, Defendant cannot hide her threat behind the guise of political statements.”

Dillard was doing the baby-killer-in-training a favor by warning her that people might do dangerous things if Means kills babies. If Dillard had written "I will put a bomb under your car", that would be a threat.

Is English a second language for you people?

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