In North Carolina on Monday, anti-abortion activist Flip Benham, who is charged with stalking and violating a new state law against residential picketing, goes to court.
He and his group, Operation Save America, put up Old West-style "wanted" posters targeting doctors who perform abortions. The group calls it free speech. Abortion rights activists say it's a threat.
Benham is a longtime anti-abortion activist. The posters he distributed earlier this year included the names, addresses and photos of four Charlotte, N.C., doctors who perform abortions.
Benham and his group took the posters to the doctors' offices and to their neighborhoods. They placed the posters on cars and tacked them up on doors.
Detective Milton Harris with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department says this violated the state's new law against targeting an individual at his home.
"By them handing out the flyers with doctors' photos on it, it was an indication to us that they were actually singling those doctors out within that residential neighborhood to protest," Harris says.
He also says that this is the first prosecution under the new law.
"The purpose of the law is to protect that person's identity against basically a lone-wolf assailant coming in there and possibly doing harm to that individual or that family," Harris says.
Clearly, these "wanted" posters are part of an on-going campaign by Operation Save America to incite violence against doctors and other health care professionals. Most people opposed to abortion abhor such tactics and reject violence. Operation Save America (also known as Operation Rescue) claims that they "employ only biblical principles" in their work. As a ordinated minister in the United Church of Christ, I see nothing biblical about their campaign to promote violence. My hope is that the case against Mr. Benham will further dissuade people from joining what is by definition a domestic terrorist movement.