A federal judge has ruled that threatening doctors who perform abortions is free speech:
A federal judge ruled Thursday that an anti-abortion extremist's threatening letter to a Wichita, KS Doctor is protected under the First Amendment and does not constitute as "true threat."Dillard's letter to Dr. Means included [ad begins playing automatically at link] the ominous warning that "thousands of people from across the nation were scrutinizing Means' background and would know 'your habits and routines'."
In 2011, the Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Angel Dillard for writing to Mila Means, a doctor who planned to start offering abortion services, telling her that she would have to start checking under her car every day for explosives. The Justice Department accused Dillard of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a law protecting abortion clinics.
Although Dr. Means testified in court that she felt threated by the letter and had undertaken several security measures in response, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled that the government failed to prove that actual violence against Dr. Means was likely or imminent.
Dillard has been associated with anti-abortion groups in Kansas. In July 2009, Dillard confirmed she had corresponded with Scott Roeder, then in a Wichita jail awaiting trial for the murder of Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Dillard told the Associated Press, "With one move, (Roeder) was able...to accomplish what we had not been able to do...So he followed his convictions and I admire that."
"They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live," the letter said. "You will be checking under your car every day — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it."Free speech.
I have received emails from people (not Angel Dillard) associated with the anti-choice movement with very similar language about scrutinizing my daily behavior. Occasionally accompanied by my home address or pictures of my house. This is the backdrop against which women who advocate for women do our work. And it is considered totally acceptable.