A domestic-terror trial in Kansas just got more interesting as Angel Dillard now claims the threats she made to abortion provider Dr. Mila Means were “divinely inspired” communications and are therefore entitled to constitutional speech and religious protections.
Dillard is facing prosecution under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) for a series of threats to Dr. Means. Among the threats made include this gem which promised the doctor thousands of people from across the country were looking into her background: “They will know your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live,” the letter said. “You will be checking under your car everyday — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.”
Means was smart to take Dillard’s threats seriously. Dillard publicly be-friended fellow domestic-terrorist and murderer Scott Roeder shortly after his arrest in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. “With one move, (Roeder) was able … to accomplish what we had not been able to do,” Dillard told AP at the time. “So he followed his convictions, and I admire that.”
As Robin Marty reports though Dillard’s claims complicate her defense. Originally Dillard claimed the threats were not “real” because she didn’t intend to carry them out. This pleading change could reflect a growing concern that the original defense won’t hold up. Or it could represent something more.
A judge will now have to consider whether or not terroristic threats that are divinely inspired are “real” and if also entitled to constitutional protection. It seems to be a losing proposition either way. A ruling on behalf of Dillard will only embolden other religiously-motivated terrorists to push further than they already do in making accessing abortion care as precarious an experience as possible while a ruling against Dillard will only fuel the paranoia already deeply rooted in this movement.
Photo from eirikref via flickr.