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Clinic owner sues abortion protesters

By Editorial Staff
Published June 10, 1999

By Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, The Orlando Sentinel

MELBOURNE — The owner of a women’s clinic is suing abortion protesters and two online services she accuses of providing information on clinic staff, doctors and patients.

Patricia Windle, owner of the Aware Woman Clinic for Choice, filed suit Monday in federal court against Meredith Raney, spokesman for Christians for Life, and 16 other protesters. Also named are CompuServe and America Online, which Raney used to obtain names and addresses of people who parked at the clinic.

The suit alleges that the clinic, its staff, doctors and patients have been targeted for years by anti-abortion activists who have used harassing and intimidating tactics.

The main tactic criticized in the suit is the copying of license tag numbers. The numbers are traced through the computer services so letters can be sent to car owners.

Such a practice violates privacy laws, said Roy Lucas, the attorney who filed the suit. Lucas filed a similar suit against abortion protesters outside Orlando and Ocala clinics in December and plans an additional suit for a clinic owned by Windle in West Palm Beach.

CompuServe spokeswoman Daphne Kent said she wasn’t aware of the latest lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it. The Columbus, Ohio-based company, recently purchased by America Online, has since stopped providing the information, Lucas said.

Raney would not comment on the suit specifically, but he said neither he nor any other anti-abortion activists had ever done anything but try to protect women and children.

“It’s been my intention and the intention of Christians for Life to present truthful information to patients. We have used inventive ways to do that,” he said Tuesday.

Windle says in the suit that Raney began videotaping the comings and goings outside the clinic at Dixie Way in north Melbourne in 1989.

She accuses him in the suit of going so far as to follow into a hospital with a video camera a patient sent to an emergency room for observation.

The other defendants are accused of stalking patients and doctors, creating posters and shouting epithets at staff.

Lucas said some of the phrases, such as “butcher,” “murderer” and “baby killer,” are “fighting words” not protected as free speech.

“These are words that are not protected by the First Amendment, just like hard-core pornography is not protected,” Lucas said.

Windle described the suit as the most aggressive in the country against abortion foes. Lucas said pulling all the facts together had been a formidable task.

“There may be as many as 1,000 or more separate acts of invasion of privacy. The activities of Meredith Raney in building a blackmail database have been outrageous,” he said.

The additional defendants were also criticized for their sidewalk counseling, a form of picketing in which counselors approach cars pulling into the parking lot.

Anti-abortion forces have maintained a house across the street from the clinic for years.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 36-foot buffer zone between the two properties in 1994. But the buffer zone is rarely enforced, Lucas said, forcing the civil action.

Mark Hall, one of the abortion foes named in the lawsuit, said the counselors have moved out. The building is now the home of Pregnancy Outreach Inc.

“They’ve removed all their equipment, and sidewalk consulting is shut down as of Dec. 1. We asked all of the protesting picketers to move out,” said Hall, who has picketed and counseled outside the clinic for years.

Pregnancy Outreach provides free pregnancy tests, sonograms, prayer and a professional medical program, Hall said.

“We are educating moms about the development of their babies,” Hall said.

Wire services were used in compiling this report.


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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

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All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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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.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

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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.”

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

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.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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