Neal Horsley is on a search-and-destroy mission. He's hunting for
the names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone having anything
to do with the manufacture or distribution of RU-486, the so-called
"abortion pill." Horsley encourages his followers to call their
local doctors, ask the receptionists if they prescribe RU-486 (also
known by its generic name, mifepristone) and then e-mail him the
information for verification. The information he receives is then
uploaded to his Web site (www.ru486registry.com),
becoming instantly available to any kook, nutcase or anti-abortion
terrorist with access to the Internet.
The Carrollton, Georgia-based Horsley created the infamous anti-abortion
"Nuremberg Files" Web site (www.christiangallery.com/atrocity),
which listed names and, whenever possible, home addresses, telephone
numbers, license-plate numbers and Social Security numbers of physicians
and health care workers who provide abortions. The site also solicited
videos and photographs and published the names and birth dates of
the providers' spouses and children. Working health care providers
were listed in black, those that had been murdered had a line struck
through their names, and the names of the wounded were gray.
In response to the murder of Dr. Barnett A. Slepian, the Justice
a task force in November 1998 to investigate anti- abortion violence.
Among the panel's first priorities was to take a close look at Horsley's
site. After several lawsuits, Internet service provider Mindspring
shut down the site in February 1999. Horsley soon established his
own Web server, but he claims the BellSouth telephone company "refused
to allow our server to connect to the Internet." (At press time, access
to both Web sites varies from day to day.)
Percentage of abortion providers
anti-abortion violence and harassment, 1997-2000.
The nomination of former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney
general has delighted anti-abortion activists like Horsley. With
Ashcroft at the helm, anti-abortion protesters would undoubtedly
find more sympathy for their activities within the Justice Department.
The idea of a registry of RU-486 providers is not Horsley's. During
the debate prior to the Food and Drug Administration's approval
of RU-486, an official national registry was proposed but eventually
thrown out after doctors and reproductive rights organizations protested.
"We have a crisis of anti-abortion violence in this country," says
Katherine Spillar, national coordinator of the Feminist Majority
Foundation (FMF). "Who can guarantee that this registry wouldn't
get into the wrong hands?"
In October, Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) introduced the RU-486
Patient Health and Safety Protection Act, which reintroduced the
idea of a national registry and would severely limit those who could
prescribe RU-486. Kate Michelman, president of the National
Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), characterized
the legislation as imposing restrictions that would "in effect negate
the ability of doctors to prescribe this option for women."
Coburn quickly recognized that the registry was too controversial
and dropped it from the final version of his bill, which eventually
stalled in a House committee. However, he did suggest that such
a registry should be left to the discretion of the Department of
Health and Human Services. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson,
who also opposes abortion, will likely head HHS. (Coburn was recently
defeated in his re-election bid, but his name has been floated by
many on the right for the position of surgeon general.)
Horsley promises on his site that his registry will be a "database
of those baby butchering 'doctors' and their closest blood cohorts
in hopes that the American people will overcome the demonic forces
presently enslaving this nation and will finally prosecute the purveyors
of death listed herein."
Horsley also plans to add live Web-cams located outside health
care clinics to the site. He boasts that this project "will make
things get very interesting very fast. People will locate themselves
outside baby butcher businesses across the nation and film people
coming and going. We want to catalog the people who go out to kill
God's little babies."
There have been too many incidents of anti-choice violence not
to take Horsley's threats seriously. According to FMF's National
Clinic Access Project, one-in-five clinics experienced severe anti-abortion
violence in 1999. These attacks included death threats, stalkings,
bomb threats, bombings, arson, blockades, invasions and chemical
attacks (see chart). At its core, Horsley's RU-486 registry is another
open invitation to terrorism.