First, the man who threatened the family of Dr. Warren Hern got off with a sentence of five years probation. Now, the man who disseminated “Wanted” posters of abortion providers that gave out their home addresses is getting an even lighter sentence: two year’s probation.
A local pastor was found guilty Monday of stalking a doctor who performs abortions. He was sentenced to 24 months probation and plans to appeal.Reverend “Flip” Benham posted wild west-style “Wanted” posters which gave the doctor’s name and home address.
Benham said this was a free speech issue, that he has a constitutional right to speak his mind.
He said, “[The doctor] kills babies. He does it for a living. He has no respect for life of children in the safety and neighborhoods of their mothers’ wombs.”
Some worried anti-abortion activists might kill the doctor, something that has happened elsewhere and was mentioned multiple times in court Monday. Prosecutors said it was like putting a target on the doctor’s back.
The doctor said he felt the poster was a “call for my murder.” He said he was always looking over his shoulder, that he’d get down on his hands and knees to make sure there were no bombs under his car, that he was worried someone would be on the roof waiting to shoot him, and that he even watched TV in rooms with fewer windows.
Benham argues that “no has ever gone and killed” because of a poster. NPR disagrees, noting that in the 90’s doctors were murdered after these types of posters circulated.
Apparently, threats of violence and intimidation are still only just worthy of a few years probation, however, if these two latest cases serve as examples. Now that anti-choice activists know that violent threats are just a slap on the wrist, will be be seeing an increase?