News Abortion

Kansas Inmate Claims Anti-Choicer Asked Him to Firebomb the Home of Dr. Means

Jodi Jacobson

Papers filed in court by the U.S. Department of Justice reveal that a Kansas county jail inmate has asserted that Angel Dillard, a known anti-choice domestic terrorist, asked him last year to firebomb the home of Dr. Mila Means.

The Associated Press and The Wichita Eagle reported yesterday that Robert Campbell, an inmate in Sedgwick County, Kansas has asserted that domestic terrorist Angel Dillard asked him last year to firebomb the house of Dr. Mila Means, an abortion provider who sought to help fill the void in access to safe abortion care in Wichita, Kansas after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

Dillard is a well-known anti-choice terrorist now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). She’s been linked to Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. Tiller in the vestibule of his church in May 2009. As noted by the Eagle, DOJ sued Dillard in 2011 for sending an allegedly threatening letter to Dr. Means, an action she has claimed resulted from “god speaking to her.”

“Angel Dillard believed she was inspired by God to send a letter to Dr. Means in an attempt to convince her not to pursue her plan to abort babies in Wichita,” attorney Donald McKinney said. “Angel Dillard wrote the letter quickly, in a matter of minutes, and believed that her message was divinely inspired.”

According to AP/Eagle, Dillard’s letter to Means stated that thousands of people from across the nation were scrutinizing [Dr. Means] background and would know “your habits and routines.”

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“They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live,” the letter said. “You will be checking under your car every day – because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.”

Court filings in the case by DOJ also now reveal that Campbell wrote a letter to the court claiming to have information about “things he did for Dillard.” The documents record Campbell stating “he was backing out of the plot to firebomb Dr. Means and that he was afraid for his life – afraid (Dillard) would hire someone to kill him for backing out.” According to AP and the Eagle, other details of Campbell’s allegations remain under seal in federal court.

For her part, Dillard claims that Campbell attempted to blackmail her and threatened to tell prosecutors she had hired him to stalk and harass Means and to firebomb her house, according to the document.

Associated Press reporter Roxana Hegeman writes that she could not find a current location for Campbell to reach him for comment, and that “Dillard’s attorney, Don McKinney, did not immediately return a phone message.”

As we’ve reported, anti-choice terrorists are increasingly falling back on the “god defense” to argue their cases. Roeder, for example, claims his actions in murdering Dr. Tiller were motivated by “god.” Dillard now claims that her conversations with both Roeder and Campbell should be shielded rom disclosure under “priest-penitent” privilege. AP reports that a judge has ruled the communications are not protected since she is not ordained clergy, but the defense has appealed.

“Mr. Campbell has stated that Defendant requested that Mr. Campbell somehow target Dr. Means, and Defendant has stated that Mr. Campbell attempted to blackmail Defendant,” the government wrote. “Regardless of which is the truth, neither version of these communications reflects communications made to seek spiritual counseling.”

Now, as AP’s Hegeman notes, anti-choice terrorists have set their sites on another women’s health advocate. Wichita pastor Mark Holick has begun stalking Julie Burkhart, Executive Director of Trust Women, an organization seeking to restore access to safe abortion care in Wichita.

Holick allegedly picketed Burkhart’s home and neighborhood and handed out “wanted-style” flyers with inflammatory language. He’s also accused of pointing a sign at her house that read, “WHERE’S YOUR CHURCH,” and using a bullhorn to get her attention, according to a court filing. Holick also has been showing up at the Trust Women building.

Burkhart has obtained a temporary order of protection, and a hearing will be held on April 11th on a request to make the order permanent.

“He is engaging in a behavior meant to scare and intimidate me,” Burkhart said in her petition for the restraining order. “He also uses violent language, which I take very seriously.”

Holick is represented by Donald McKinney, the same lawyer representing Dillard.

In a state famous for its hostility toward the health and well-being of women and children, anti-choice violence and harassment continues to flourish.

Editorial Human Rights

Pro-Choice and Pregnant? Yeah, It’s Really Real

Jodi Jacobson

In response to a recent profile of NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, in which she recounted how anti-choice advocates couldn't handle her growing pregnant belly, we've created a new Tumblr to show off our pro-choice and pregnant, or pro-choice and parenting, selves. Join us!

This week, the Washington Post published a profile of NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, which focused on what apparently is to many in the anti-choice movement a mystifying occurrence: Hogue, a leading abortion-rights advocate, is pregnant with twins. As Hogue recounted in the piece, the jaws of anti-choice advocates dropped open when she recently entered one meeting at 36 weeks pregnant. One advocate, referring to her belly, even asked: “Is that real?”

Yes. It’s really real.

The media and others often depict the pro-choice movement as having a political “agenda” equivalent though oppositional to that of the anti-choice movement, which seeks to eliminate access to abortion care, in all circumstances, as well as to contraception and other forms of reproductive health care, irrespective of the consequences for public health or women’s lives.

But what is the pro-choice “agenda?” Is it really just about ideology? And what is so surprising about being pro-choice and pregnant?

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Being pro-choice is fundamentally about parenting, because it means believing, as the international women’s rights movement has long stated, that every child should be a wanted child, and that, by extension, that every parent is a willing parent.

It means focusing on women and girls, first and foremost, as human beings with human rights. It means believing in reproductive justice for all persons, a concept that, while complex and multidimensional, is nonetheless succinctly described by Loretta Ross, a scholar, writer, and co-founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, as ensuring that every individual has the ability to:

  • Decide if and when to have a child and the conditions under which to give birth;
  • Decide not to have a baby and full access to options for preventing or ending a pregnancy;
  • Parent the children she or he already has with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, and without fear of violence from individuals or the government.

Being pro-choice means advocating for the ability of people to parent when they are ready to do so, and the right of every child to receive love, attention, food, housing, health care, education, and other critical social supports, funding for many of which, by the way, legislators affiliated with the anti-choice movement are busy eliminating.

Being pro-choice is also a commitment to using science and evidence in the interest of social progress. Data show unequivocally that in countries or in communities (even in the United States) where people lack access to reproductive and maternal health care (including abortion care), there are higher rates of maternal death and illness, higher rates of infant and child mortality, higher rates of poverty, and lower rates of educational attainment. Access to abortion is therefore an economic, social, and health issue in every sense. If you read and understand medical and public health evidence without bias, you can not help but advocate for what that evidence tells you: access to abortion saves lives. Based on all the undeniable evidence, supporting all people in making decisions about whether and when to be pregnant and whether, when, and with whom to become a parent is the pro-life position in the fullest sense of the term.

It is perhaps because they know this intuitively and from lived experience that the majority of women who seek abortion care are already parenting children, and when they become pregnant make rational and sound choices about their ability to parent another child, not just for as long as it takes to get through the one package of diapers from the crisis pregnancy center, but for years on end. Sixty-one percent of women who have abortions already have at least one child.

I’ve had an abortion. I later had two children, now 16 and 18, when I was able to give them what they needed to grow into healthy and well-adjusted young adults. I am of course still parenting them.

Yet these facts notwithstanding, it seems “pro-choice and pregnant” don’t go together in the minds of those who oppose the right of women to make critical decisions about their lives and those of their families. One anti-choice advocate was overheard by my colleague Zoe Greenberg, who was attending a “pro-life” meeting in California, saying that “abortion terminates motherhood.” To the contrary, abortion confirms motherhood, and is part of the continuum of motherhood, fatherhood, and parenthood.

Still those mouths fall open. So we’ve decided to offer concrete evidence of the extent to which parenthood and abortion rights are tied together at a new Tumblr, called, Pregnant, Parenting, and Pro-Choice. We are pro-choice and pregnant, pro-choice and parents, pro-choice and grandparents, aunts, uncles, adoptive, step-, and foster parents. We are pro human rights for all people, and by default, pro-child, and pro-family. We are the majority, and it’s time for us all to step up and show it.

Share your pro-choice and pregnant and parenting photos and stories for the world to see.

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News Race

Police Arrest Faith Leaders at Ferguson Rally (Updated)

Elon James White

On the final day billed as part of Ferguson's "weekend of resistance," Dr. Cornel West was put in handcuffs outside of the Ferguson Police Department.

UPDATE, October 14, 8:26 a.m.: According to reports, Cornel West was released from police custody on Monday night.

Read more of our coverage related to recent events in Ferguson here.

On the final day billed as part of Ferguson’s “weekend of resistance,” Dr. Cornel West along with other faith leaders were put in handcuffs in an act of civil disobedience.

On Monday, clergy and hundreds of protesters marched from Wellspring Church to the Ferguson Police Department just a few blocks away. As the march got closer to the police department it started to rain and the clergy prayed via bullhorns and asked if the police officers would repent for their sins against those killed by police brutality.

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The clergy read the names of those who have died at the hands of police and ended the planned action with voluntary arrests by civil rights activists, including Dr. Cornel West, Pastor Jamal Bryant, and Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou.

The moment @cornelwest got arrested… ##FergusonPd

A video posted by Elon James White (@elonjames) on