Anti-Abortion Activist to Face Jury Trial in Harassment of Doctor
US District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled yesterday that Angel Dillard will face a jury trial in the case against her that alleges Dillard violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a law protecting abortion clinics. The Justice Department filed a civil complaint in 2011 against Dillard for sending a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means, the Kansas doctor who was planning to offer abortion services at her Wichita practice. The complaint ask that Dillard be prohibited from contacting Means or coming within 250 feet of her home and her office.
On Tuesday, Judge Marten also dismissed a request by Dillard to drop the case because Means is not currently an abortion provider, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, he rejected Dillard's attempt to countersue on the basis that the government allegedly violated her First Amendment rights. Dillard claimed that the Justice Department's proposed restrictions that would prevent her from coming within 250 feet of Means' clinic could prevent Dillard from attending a nearby church.
The letter, written by Dillard, claimed that thousands of people were looking into Dr. Means' background. "They will know your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live." The letter continues, "You will be checking under your car everyday - because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it."
Dillard has been associated with anti-abortion groups in Kansas. In an interview with the Associated Press in July 2009, Dillard revealed she had corresponded with Scott Roeder, then in a Wichita jail awaiting trial for the murder of Dr. Tiller. Dillard told AP "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."
Abortion services have not been available to women in Wichita since Dr. George Tiller's murder in May 2009. The Feminist Majority Foundation, which conducts the oldest and largest national clinic defense project in the nation, had worked with Dr. Tiller and is helping besieged clinics in some 14 states. Harassment of abortion providers has increased since the election of pro-choice President Obama and Dr. Tiller's assassination.
Media Resources: Associated Press 8/7/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/19/2011, 4/21/2011