Brian Kemper. Kristan Hawkins. Mark Crutcher. Joe Scheidler. If you’re actively Pro-Life, these are the household names of individuals who have dedicated their entire lives to abolishing abortion. Maybe they elicit fond personal memories from when you’ve met or worked with them at a March for Life event. Maybe you’ve read their op-eds in national publications. Maybe you’ve admired them for their courage in facing the abortion movement head-on.
But, you have likely never thought of them as bullies. In fact, none of them are “blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing” people who “habitually badger and intimidate smaller or weaker people” (which is the definition of “bully”). To the contrary: don’t abortion advocates, rallying behind the “right” to kill innocent children, sound more like bullies to us?
Faced with the opposition (not bullying) of stalwart Pro-Lifers, abortion mill owner Todd Stave decided in 2011 that he would publish the personal contact information – including home addresses – of Pro-Life advocates who were disrupting his business endeavors by raising awareness of the abortion mill he owned. Thus was born the Pro-Life “Bully List” at Voice of Choice. The above Pro-Lifers were listed along with 132 others who exercised their First Amendment right to free speech.
Stave owns the Maryland facility where abortionist LeRoy Carhart commits late-term abortions (he travels between Nebraska and Maryland conducting this “business.”). Stave’s own father was an abortionist, so blood money has apparently kept this family lucrative for at least two generations. Stave began taking action against Pro-Lifers with his “Bully List” when a group of Pro-Lifers protested his being Carhart’s landlord outside of his daughter’s school. In retaliation, Stave collected the contact information of the protestors and published it online.
Is the “Bully List” an “eye for an eye,” so to speak, when Pro-Lifers contact abortionists and others involved in the abortion industry to voice their opinions about their work? The lead attorney in a class-action lawsuit against Stave says No. Attorney Steven L. Tiedmann explains that there is a difference between what Staves did (by publishing the contact information of Pro-Lifers and encouraging abortion advocates to use it to retaliate) and what Pro-Lifers do when they protest abortion by peacefully confronting the perpetrators and accomplices of the act. Tiedmann calls this latter endeavor “protesting a certain kind of commerce [abortion].”
“Voice of Choice is trying to stop people voicing opinions,” Teidmann said, “not protesting a certain type of commerce (as are the Pro-Life protestors at the clinic). You can’t take actions to intimidate, threaten or picket someone for exercising his free speech, however hateful that speech might be.”
Tiedmann filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $43 million, and representing 132 “Bully List” victims. The attorney often works pro bono on Life-related legal cases brought to him by Alliance Defending Freedom. The suit seeks compensatory damages of $100,000 per Pro-Life victim, and punitive damages of $30 million.
Earlier this Fall, months after the lawsuit was filed, the “Bully List” conspicuously disappeared from the website. This action had a major impact on the website, which is not much more than a shell without the list. Here’s a snapshot of what the site looked like before the “Bully List” was removed. And hereis what it looks like now.
Matt Yonke, one of the victims and an employee of Joe and Anne Scheidler’s organization the Pro-Life Action League, made the following statement shortly after the list was removed:
The site gives no indication as to what motivated its owners to take down the list. Whether it was that legal proceedings against them had been successful, whether they simply decided that harassing pro-lifers wasn’t the best way to advance their cause, or something else entirely is impossible to say unless or until more details emerge.
From the perspective of the lawsuit, pulling the website content doesn’t undo the damage caused by the Bully List. All that is accomplished by pulling the Bully List is the prevention of continued harm. Adding irony to the Bully List debacle, an abortion advocate opined in a 2012 New York Times column that listing publicly-available information about abortionists aims “to frighten the dwindling band” of abortionists. Somehow, though, their reasoning conveniently does not translate to the offenses of those in their own camp.