December 23, 2010 — The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a lawsuit accusing an antiabortion-rights protester of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act during an incident at a Louisville, Ky., abortion clinic in January, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Congress enacted the FACE Act in 1994 in response to murders by antiabortion-rights activists.
DOJ alleges in the suit that 26-year-old David Hamilton attempted to interfere, injure and intimidate women entering EMW Women's Surgical Center. The suit also alleges that Hamilton used force against a volunteer escort. According to a police report of the incident, Hamilton was "pushing and shoving clinic escorts," which alarmed people trying to enter the clinic (Riley, Louisville Courier-Journal, 12/22). He was charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was dropped in May after he completed eight hours of volunteer work at a church (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/23).
The suit seeks a $15,000 penalty and $5,000 in compensatory damages. DOJ also requests that a judge prohibit Hamilton from coming within eight feet of anyone obtaining or providing services at the clinic, which is the only abortion clinic in Louisville.
Attorney Vincent Heuser, who represented Hamilton in the criminal case, called the suit "absolutely ludicrous" but declined to comment further until he has read the complaint. EMW Director Anne Ahola told the Courier-Journal that she was unaware of the suit and does not recall the details of the January incident, but she said there should be a buffer zone between protesters and people trying to enter the clinic (Louisville Courier-Journal, 12/22).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership