By Editorial Staff
Published July 29, 1999
By Mary Kelli Bridges, Staff Writer, Naples Daily News
In an ironic move Wednesday, anti-abortionists sued Lee County Sheriff John McDougall – an outspoken opponent of abortion – for not allowing them to approach clients in front of an abortion clinic in North Fort Myers.
It’s an issue that has pulled McDougall, who has come under fire countless times in the past for voicing his opinion that doctors who perform abortions are “baby-killers,” in two directions.
Though he says the anti-abortionists have no legal standing for the federal lawsuit – which he believes will be thrown out of court quickly – he also said he understands why they’re forcing the issue.
Lee County Sheriff John McDougall
“In an odd way, I really do wish they could prevail,” McDougall said.
But earlier this month McDougall proved that he wasn’t willing to allow anyone, including those with his similar beliefs, to break laws.
On July 13, Lee County sheriff’s deputies issued trespassing warnings to anti-abortionists who up until then had visited the Southwest Florida Women’s Clinic in North Fort Myers on a regular basis to distribute anti-abortion information to clients. The warnings came after Dr. Ali Azima, who runs the clinic, told deputies he didn’t want the protesters on the clinic’s private property.
The sheriff agreed to respect Azima’s request and decided to follow clinic-violence guidelines approved this year by a law enforcement think tank.
The guidelines are based on the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 1994. The law requires that clinic entrances not be blocked, so that doctors and patients are protected from intimidation or harassment.
However, that same act allows health-care counselors to approach patients, attorney Christopher F. Sapp said.
Two of those served with trespassing warnings, Robert Smith and Ray Sienkiewicz, call themselves “sidewalk counselors.” They are suing McDougall, as an individual and in his role as Lee County’s sheriff, in the U.S. District Court’s Middle District of Florida for allegedly violating the federal act.
In a written statement faxed from Sapp’s office, the men allege McDougall has said he is under pressure from people in Washington, D.C., to put a stop to their “counseling and referral program.”
“According to McDougall, powerful people in Washington want us stopped,” the statement says. “Apparently, he has agreed to help them.”
In the complaint, the men are suing John and Jane Doe, in addition to the sheriff, Sapp said. He said John and Jane Doe represent anyone who is pressuring the sheriff and could be included by name in the suit in the future.
McDougall denies receiving any pressure.
The abortion protesters are described in the civil complaint as “brave people who reach out to the mothers and fathers of unborn children at abortion clinics, offering love and help, rather than debate or condemnation.”
The sheriff has said that the clinic is on private property and if protesters want to distribute information, they must do so on public property, which is a block away. If they continue to trespass, the sheriff has said, they could be arrested.
Smith and Sienkiewicz see that as a threat and violation of the act.
“Defendant, John McDougall, intentionally and unlawfully caused these threats and intimidation by ordering his deputies to threaten plaintiffs with physical removal from the facility,” according to the complaint.
They are asking for an injunction allowing them to protest in front of the clinic, want $5,000 for each alleged violation of the act and between $15,000 and $25,000 in punitive damages.
“We believe that Sheriff McDougall has unlawfully prevented us from offering love and help to the girls being brought to Ali Azima’s abortuary,” according to the statement.
Sienkiewicz, who said he is a member of Referral Educational and Counseling Help, an outreach program that tries to provide pregnant women with information offering alternatives to abortion, said it’s impossible to counsel women from the area McDougall has specified.
Still, the men haven’t returned since July 13.
“That would probably force an arrest, which we don’t want to happen,” Sienkiewicz said.
Azima said it’s been calmer in the past couple of weeks, because the protesters haven’t been in front of the clinic. He adamantly denies that Smith and Sienkiewicz or their friends are counselors.
“They are approaching patients and they are intimidating them and frightening them,” Azima said.
He said he’s received complaints from many patients, including women who come to the clinic for routine checkups.
“There hasn’t been even one person who comes inside the clinic and said they have counseled them,” Azima said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy said he can’t comment about the merits of the civil suit, but said McDougall has gone out of his way to make sure he’s protecting the rights of the abortion protesters, the health-care providers and potential clients.
“I would say that Sheriff McDougall at all times has acted professionally and within the definitions of the FACE Act,” Molloy said.
Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and McDougall agreed to host a meeting with Azima and abortion protesters to help solve the disagreement. But neither Azima nor anti-abortionists showed up.
That was the second time law enforcement officials met to discuss the act and how to deal with possible violations, Molloy said.
The first time was in June and included officials from McDougall’s office, the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The meeting was at McDougall’s request, Molloy said.
“What the sheriff wanted to do was give full protection of the law to all the sides the FACE Act protects,” Molloy said.
A hearing on the legal challenge hasn’t been scheduled.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)