Site targets state's clinics

Anti-abortion page on Web tests format that divides listing

Maryland is first

Phone numbers, addresses of 27 doctors posted

February 04, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Anti-abortion activists have stepped up their Internet attack on doctors and women's clinics, this time with Maryland as their first target.

Under a heading that simulates dripping blood, creators of "The Nuremberg Trials" Web site list 27 "Alleged Maryland Abortionists," with addresses, telephone numbers, names of family members and in most cases a photograph.

Visitors to the Web site can click on a button labeled "submit evidence" to type in additional personal information about the doctors.

The Maryland page marks the first time the World Wide Web site has broken down by state the more than 200 providers and clinics.

"This is a very disturbing development," said Stephanie Mueller, spokeswoman for the National Abortion Federation. "I think it means they are taking their actions one step further."

The new wrinkle in the computerized war on abortion began Monday, one day before a Portland, Ore., jury found that the Web site and "wanted" posters were threats intended to encourage violence. The jury awarded four doctors and two clinics $107 million in damages.

The plaintiffs had argued that they feared for their lives because three doctors were killed after distribution of the posters.

The defendants -- two anti-abortion groups and 12 individuals -- insisted their actions were protected by the First Amendment.

A spokeswoman for one of the plaintiffs said the timing of the Maryland listing was not a coincidence.

"It came in reaction to the trial," said Kathy Bachman, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette.

The introduction to the Maryland listing says: "We are testing a new format for the baby butcher's list! Click here and see what you think. We can do this in every state in the presently united States of America with your help."

Mueller said that while the suit was to stop the posters and the Web site, it might have had an unintended result.

"I think that the trial has brought a lot of visibility to the site. They're getting more detailed information now," she said.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood said after the verdict that they would file for an injunction, asking U.S. District Judge Robert Jones to shut down "The Nuremberg Files" while he considers whether to order the site dismantled.

Neal Horsley Jr., the Carrollton, Ga., computer programmer who designed the site, could not be reached last night.

But during the trial he testified that the site was not intended to threaten, but to gather information about abortion providers so that they could be tried as the Nazis were after World War II.

Mueller and Bachman believe Maryland might have been chosen to test the new format because of the Rev. Michael Bray, the pastor of a small independent Lutheran church in Bowie who was a defendant in the case.

Bray, who served four years in prison for his part in the bombing of clinics, laughed at those opinions.

"I hate to reveal things," he said. "I'm honored that they credit me."

Bray said he was unaware of the Maryland listing.

"But I wouldn't want to disassociate myself from that," he added. "What's implied if I say I have no knowledge is that I don't support it. If it's the right thing to do, why disassociate yourself from it?"

Pub Date: 2/04/99

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