Saturday, July 02, 2011

Anti-abortion Extremist Convicted of Stalking Doctor

From the Feminist Majority Foundation:

July 1, 2011
Contact: Annie Shields
Phone: 310.556.2500

Anti-abortion Extremist Convicted of Stalking Doctor

Today, 12 jurors in Charlotte, N.C., found anti-abortion extremist leader Flip Benham guilty of criminally stalking a Charlotte-area physician who performs abortions. This is the second time Benham, who is director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, was convicted for conduct that caused a person to fear for their safety or the safety of their family.

"For too long, Benham and his organization have been able to stalk and terrorize abortion providers and their families with impunity," said duVergne Gaines, legal coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation, who attended the 5-day trial. "They have distributed WANTED posters and engaged in other outrageous conduct in an attempt to intimidate doctors out of providing safe, legal abortions for women here in Charlotte," continued Gaines.

"This trial and its outcome are important," said Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "We hope this verdict will encourage other district attorneys and the Department of Justice to prosecute extremists who, like Benham, are terrorizing abortion doctors across the country," continued Spillar.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has been working with Charlotte-area clinics and doctors to stop anti-abortion extremist harassment. "We have been alarmed by the extremists' brazen use of old-West-style WANTED posters to target doctors at their homes and offices," explained Spillar.

Indeed, in key testimony for the prosecution, Charlotte Police Detective Harris presented compelling details of how abortion extremists have murdered doctors who were initially featured on WANTED posters, just as is happening in Charlotte today. "Harris' statements underscore the importance of prosecuting extremists to the full extent of the law in order to prevent threats from escalating to violence," observed Gaines.

In addition to the guilty verdict, the Judge entered an extensive protective order preventing Benham from entering the residential community where the doctor lives, and from coming within 500 feet of the doctor's office and the two women's health clinics where he performs abortions. Additionally, Benham is prevented from contacting in any manner the doctor and his family, and from publishing WANTED posters or other materials, including on his website or online, that reference the doctor or his home or office address. Benham has entered a notice of appeal of the verdict. However the protective order will remain in force until the appeal is heard.

The Feminist Majority Foundation runs the National Clinic Access Project, which is the oldest and largest clinic defense project in the nation - researching and tracking extremist groups, organizing community support for clinics, providing safety assessments, sponsoring litigation to defend clinics, and working with law enforcement to stop violence against abortion providers.

Interviews with duVergne Gaines and Katherine Spillar can be arranged by calling 310 556 2500.


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