Anti-Abortion Web Site Sparks Digital Debate

A Georgia man's high-tech crusade against abortion is troubling both pro-choice and pro-life advocates.

Neal Horsley, an anti-abortion activist from Carrollton, Ga, posts the home addresses of abortion providers and video clips shot outside their clinics on a Web site that he calls "The Nuremberg Files."

Horsley claims he is providing a forum to collect information on what he calls "baby butchers," in hopes the information can be used against them if abortion ever becomes illegal.

"Hopefully, someday we'll be able to take those people to trial," Horsley says.

But Horsley's critics see something more sinister in the Web site, which features strong language and graphics of dripping blood.

"It is an intimidation tactic that really goes to the core of privacy," says Robert Harkins, vice president for public affairs of Planned Parenthood of Western Washington.

"The Nuremberg Files" lists the names of abortion providers in three color-coded categories: black for "working," gray for "wounded" and a slash through the name to indicate a "fatality."

Critics of "The Nuremberg Files" claim the site may provoke fanatics to eliminate abortion providers. When Buffalo, N.Y., gynecologist Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper in 1998, a slash was put through his name on the Web site. Slepian's accused murderer, James Charles Kopp, has been arrested in France and is fighting a court's recommendation that he be extradited to the U.S.

Horsley's Web site also calls for volunteers willing to stand outside abortion clinics with video cameras in hand to record doctors, patients and staff as they come and go.

Advertised on his site as "Live Web Cams," the video clips are actually pre-recorded, but nonetheless troubling to abortion providers wanting to protect the privacy of their patients.

So far, legal challenges to Horsley's Web site have failed.

And it isn't just pro-choice advocates who are trying to shut down The Nuremberg Files. Horsley is also drawing sharp criticism from mainstream pro-lifers, who believe his Web site relies on thinly veiled threats instead of persuasion.

"We're not going to change people through intimidation," said Dan Kennedy, CEO of the anti-abortion advocacy group Human Life of Washington. "Our job is to heal the culture, not to pour salt in its wounds, and that's what this [Web site] is doing."

But Horsley makes no apologies for his in-your-face tactics, pointing out that three decades of peaceful protest have not overturned the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the U.S.

"If you keep doing the same old thing over and over again and expect different results, you're either stupid or you really don't want anything to change," Horsley said. "I'm trying new things."

Horsley insists those "new things" are protected by the First Amendment. Critics say it is not Horsley who needs protection, but the people his site is targeting.