American Coalition of Life Activists

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The American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) was a pro-life advocacy group that was the subject of controversy for its series of Wanted-style posters.

During a 1995 meeting, the group unveiled a "wanted" poster that listed the names and addresses of a "Deadly Dozen" abortion providers. The poster accused them of "crimes against humanity" and offered a $5,000 reward for the "arrest, conviction and revocation of license to practice medicine" of these physicians. The poster was published in Life Advocate magazine. A second poster targeted a specific person, Dr. Robert Crist, offered a reward for persuading him "to turn from his child killing," and included his name, address, and photo.

In 1996 it revealed its "Nuremberg Files" which included dossiers on abortion providers, politicians, judges, clinic employees and other abortion rights supporters. The ACLA claimed that these dossiers could be used for trials for "crimes against humanity" when the nation's laws changed to prohibit abortion. Neal Horsley, an activist, published the information on his website. His website greyed the names of those injured and crossed out the names of those killed by anti-abortion activists.

Although the posters and website did not contain any specific threat, Planned Parenthood successfully sued the ACLA and was awarded $107 million by a jury. The ACLA appealed the verdict on First Amendment grounds. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the verdict. The activities of the ACLA were held to be protected under the First Amendment because they did not directly threaten harm to the plaintiffs, and because the ACLA's statements were not communicated privately to the plaintiffs. In an en banc rehearing, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals re-reversed and held that the ACLA could be held liable in damages because the website made a threat unprotected by the First Amendment.


The information in this article is taken from the statement of facts as set forth in Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette, Inc. v. American Coalition of Life Activists