Anti-abortion Web site returns to Internet
Editor’s note: Earlier reports of a judgment of $107 million against anti-abortion activists were later corrected to $109 million. That change has been made in this and other stories.
More than two weeks after a controversial anti-abortion Web site was shut down by its Internet service provider, the site returned to the Net over the weekend in two forms: on a new server stateside and in a mirrored version out of the Netherlands.
Offline since Feb. 4, the Nuremberg Files sparked nationwide debate for displaying photos of mangled fetuses and drawings of dripping blood. The site also lists the names and addresses of abortion doctors, crossing out those who are killed.
Earlier this month, a Portland, Ore., jury ordered a dozen anti-abortion activists to pay $109 million in damages to Planned Parenthood and to doctors who claimed the activists’ speech — via “wanted” posters and later the Web site — posed a threat to their lives.
Neal Horsley, who manages the Nuremberg Files out of Carrolton, Ga., was not a defendant in Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists. Prosecutors said that it was simply “too late” to add Horsley to the case because the Web site was not posted until 1997, long after the suit had been filed.
The jury, however, agreed that the site and its “wanted” posters were threats and not protected speech under the First Amendment.
MindSpring, an Atlanta-based Internet service provider, originally hosted the site. But the server shut down the site on Feb. 4 after Horsley said he planned to add video cameras at abortion clinics to monitor activities there. Company officials said the site violated its “appropriate use” policy.
Jonathan O’Toole, who assists Horsley with the Christian Gallery’s Web site, said a new server was found last week and that the Nuremberg Files went back online on Feb. 20. He wouldn’t disclose the name of the new server but said it was based in the United States.
“In the face of massive opposition from many quarters, the Living God has provided us a restored web site and — should we be surprised? — it performs better than the MindSpring server ever provided!” Horsley said in a statement e-mailed to freedomforum.org.
Horsley says the content of the Nuremberg Files hasn’t changed except for the addition of some new names and addresses. He says he hopes to launch his “Live Web Cam Project” in the coming weeks.
On Feb. 22, Karen Spaink, a freelance author who writes a regular column for the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, posted a mirrored version of the site on her Web page.
Spaink says she favors a woman’s right to abortion and detests the Nuremberg Files site. But in a statement sent to freedomforum.org, she said she had posted the site on her own Web page because she believed it deserved free-speech protection.
“I consider the ruling to be detrimental to free speech and, although I loathe the page, I feel obliged to mirror it,” Spaink said in her statement.
But Spaink included a warning on her site to anti-abortion supporters suggesting that she might have tampered with the Nuremberg Files site.
“You can never be sure that I haven’t amended the page,” she wrote. “Do not trust the names and addresses you find here, and do not use violence against the people listed here. You may end up shooting your own affiliates.”
O’Toole said Horsley was aware of Spaink’s Web site but that Horsley had not communicated with her.
David Johnson, co-director of the Cyberspace Law Institute in Washington, noted that the court in Portland did not order the shut down of the Nuremberg Files although it or another court may in the future.
Johnson told the Los Angeles Times that U.S. authorities also could target Spaink’s site if they determine it targeted Americans and caused them harm. He said the Portland clinic workers and doctors who sued in Oregon could also file suit in the Netherlands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.