Anti-abortion activist claims clinic sought to silence him
PORTLAND, Ore. — An anti-abortion activist has filed an $8 million federal lawsuit against the clinic he once picketed, saying that the clinic violated his civil rights by seeking a stalking order against him.
Paul deParrie successfully appealed the 1996 stalking order, and now says it was part of a conspiracy to silence critics of abortion.
The multimillion-dollar claim is just the latest in an ongoing court battle between abortion foes and abortion providers over free speech and alleged threats of violence and murder.
DeParrie, who leads Advocates for Life Ministries and edits Portland-based Life Advocate magazine, endorses the use of force to stop abortions, saying it “is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.”
In 1995, he and a small group of picketers demonstrated outside the home of Jude Hanzo, who was then the director of an abortion-providing clinic called the Portland Feminist Women’s Health Center.
After a hearing the next year, U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Moultrie issued a stalking order that said deParrie could have no contact with Hanzo at her home — through picketing, mail, telephone or even a third party.
In a 1998 version of the order, Moultrie held that “the overriding interests in the quiet enjoyment of the home and the maintenance of peace and order in a residential neighborhood” outweighed deParrie’s right to free expression.
But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the opinion saying there was no evidence of violence or threats during the protest.
The distribution of handbills calling Hanzo “a notorious child killer” might have discomforted Hanzo, but that is the essence of picketing, the appeals court said.
In his federal suit, deParrie seeks $1 million in nominal damages, $5,000 in compensation, and $1 million in punitive damages on each of eight claims against Hanzo, the Women’s Center, their attorney, Katherine McDowell, and her law firm, Stoel Rives.
The charges include deprivation of deParrie’s right to free expression and peaceable assembly, wrongful use of a civil proceeding, negligence and defamation.
The federal court had originally issued the stalking order in part because of a sign carried by picketers at Hanzo’s home. It read, “Free Paul Hill, Jail Abortionists,” referring to the man who shot and killed Dr. John Britten, a Florida doctor who performed abortions, and the doctor’s bodyguard.
The petition that was filed on Hanzo’s behalf said deParrie’s actions “were frighteningly similar to campaigns which have led to death and injury of other abortion providers.”
Hanzo’s lawyer, McDowell, argued that the picketing and handbills should be viewed “in the context of the increasingly violent anti-abortion movement.”
McDowell said part of that movement was murder.