Trial Focuses on Man Accused of Anthrax Abortion Threats

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Trial Focuses on Man Accused of Anthrax Abortion Threats

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
November 21, 2003

Philadelphia, PA ( — Pro-life leaders say they hope justice will be served in the trial of Clayton Lee Waagner, who is accused of mailing out hundreds of anthrax hoax letters across the U.S. to abortion facilities as well as crisis pregnancy centers.

Some, but not all, of the letters were sent to abortion businesses. As a result, the pro-abortion lobby has tried to blame the pro-life movement for the crime. However, officials at pro-life organizations have denounced the anthrax hoax as a cruel threat which violates the pro-lifer’s fundamental creed: to respect the dignity of all human beings.

"Violence, or the threat of violence, is never the appropriate response to the tragedy of abortion," said the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation in a written statement. "To be pro-life means to honor all human life as sacred."

Waagner, who is acting as his own attorney, claims that, aside from his own confession, the government has no proof that he was responsible for the mailings. He even went so far as to suggest that he may have lied about his involvement to take the pressure off other activists who oppose abortion.

"When you take that (confession) out of this, there is nothing there…no fingerprints, no DNA, no hair fibers," Waagner said.

Prosecutors, however, say Waagner was clearly responsible for mailing letters which contained white powder, such as flour or insecticide, along with the warning, "Stop now, or die."

In October of 2001, when Michigan abortion centers received a wave of anthrax letters, Barbara Listing, President of Right to Life of Michigan, said, "While Right to Life of Michigan rejects abortion as a solution to an unwanted pregnancy, we vigorously oppose the psychological terror which has been afflicted on some people who are involved in the abortion industry. No pro-life agenda is furthered by deeds which show contempt toward human beings."

Also in October, 2001 the North Penn Pregnancy Counseling Center in Lansdale, Pennsylvania received a letter that contained a powdery white substance.

Waagner is already serving a 30-year sentence for weapons violations. His crime spree, which took him across the country after he escaped from an Illinois jail, included bank robberies and a carjacking. As a fugitive, Waagner became the first man to appear on the most-wanted lists for both the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The 47-year-old Waagner, who is from Kennerdell, a town north of Pittsburgh, was charged in a 79-count indictment with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, violating the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act, extortion, and making and mailing threatening communications.

Waagner is also charged with posting a message on a web site claiming to oppose abortion in which he said that he had been stalking abortion center workers and planned to "kill as many of them as I can."

Pro-life activists say such statements are clearly at odds with the pro-life movement, which promotes peaceful, non-violent methods to stop the scourge of abortion.

Waagner’s trial is expected to last up to three weeks.