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Orlando Abortion Doctor Indicted

By Editorial Staff
Published June 22, 2000

James Pendergraft Is Accused Of Trying To Extort Money From Marion County

By Lynne Bumpus-Hooper of The Sentinel Staff

JACKSONVILLE — An Orlando abortion doctor who sued in federal court for protection from anti-abortion activists has been charged with trying to extort money from the Marion County Commission.

To abortion-rights activists, the federal indictment of Dr. James Pendergraft and his consultant Michael Spielvogel is chilling.

“We’ve gotten so little from the Department of Justice in the past that any naivete I had of justice for American women is gone,” said Patricia Windle, past owner of a Melbourne clinic and an outspoken advocate for abortion rights.

Abortion opponents hailed the move. They called the indictment, which may be the first of its kind against a clinic operator, a “wake-up call” for Pendergraft. He owns five abortion clinics, including one in Orlando.

“We hope Dr. Pendergraft and Michael Spielvogel feel indicted by God almighty and that Dr. Pendergraft will heed this and put his doctoring skills to good use caring for women and their babies,” said the Rev. Ed Martin, a vocal abortion opponent in Ocala.

The indictment, issued by a federal grand jury last week, alleges that Pendergraft and Spielvogel “authored false, fictitious and libelous affidavits” as part of their 1998 civil suit against Ocala. The extortion, the indictment says, came in their attempt to get money from Marion County through a court settlement of that suit, which eventually was tossed out of court.

The indictment says the two lied about threats they said were directed at them by Marion County Commissioner Larry Cretul when they announced plans to open an abortion facility in Ocala in 1998.

Pendergraft was not arrested. Instead he will be given a notice to appear in federal court sometime in the near future, officials said. Prosecutors in Jacksonville handling the case would not comment.

Cretul said Wednesday prosecutors have told him not to discuss the case because he will be a witness at the trial.

A spokeswoman for Pendergraft said the allegations are false.

“They are a distortion at a minimum and outright lies at the maximum. Dr. Pendergraft is completely innocent, and he will fight this fight as he has fought others,” Marti McKenzie said.

McKenzie said Ocala had been a “hostile environment” for Pendergraft from the moment he announced the clinic’s opening. She said the Ocala facility would continue to operate.

Spielvogel could not be reached for comment.

Pendergraft filed a federal civil suit against Orlando in 1996 to ward off an attempt to prevent second-trimester abortions at his clinic there. The suit was settled out of court for $325,000.

Nationally, the indictment was called frightening by people who support abortion rights.

“Abortion providers face so many obstacles and sources of fear that the last thing they need is having a prosecutor come down on them while they are seeking assistance,” said Betsy Cavendish, vice president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.

Cavendish said there have been seven slayings and 16 attempted slayings at clinics nationally during the past decade.

In Ocala, the main goal of Pendergraft’s original civil suit was to obtain the right to hire off-duty police officers for security at the facility.

An abortion clinic was burned in Ocala in 1989, and Pendergraft said he wanted to prevent any violence at his facility.

He was successful with that request, but the suit was eventually dropped because of inaction on other issues, including whether to create a buffer zone for protesters around the clinic.


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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

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Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

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Running Time: 28 minutes

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“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.

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