WESTMINSTER, Md. — Three lawsuits have been filed against a landlord for a notorious late-term abortionist after he recently launched an online campaign that divulges the personal contact information of those who minister to mothers outside of abortion facilities.
According to reports, Todd Stave first began fighting against abortion abolitionists—those who seek a complete end to abortion without exceptions—in 2012 in response to calls he received from those expressing concern about his lease to late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart. The calls came after a group of five abolitionists held “please stop the killing” signs outside of a “back-to-school night” at his daughter’s middle school in Maryland. Stave urged others across the country to begin calling the Christians to “fight back.”
Stave, the son of an abortionist, then launched Voice for Choice (VOC) as a way to broaden the efforts. He began gathering the personal contact information of every known abortion abolitionist nationwide, posting it on his website for all to see and urging abortion advocates to make contact . Referring to those who engage in active ministry outside of abortion facilities as “bullies,” Stave posted photographs of each, along with their home address, personal telephone number and email address. The photographs were obtained mostly from personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, which were also linked on the site.
But in lawsuits filed against Stave and VOC director Wendy Robertson last month, attorney Steven Tiedemann asserts that the “bully” list created by VOC was ironically meant to bully Christians into silence.
“Each person listed as ‘bullies’ on VOC’s website engage in what is clearly the exercise of their First Amendment rights and it is violation of Federal Criminal Law for Defendants to conspire to limit those rights,” he stated in a recent news release about the legal proceedings. “Unlike abortion protests that seek to stop a commercial transaction, Stave and his followers are conspiring to ‘shut up’ my clients in the exercise of their protected rights, and that in my opinion is illegal.”
The first lawsuit, Westenkirchner et al v. Voice of Choice, Inc., seeks to protect the personal privacy of the abolitionists cited on VOC’s bully list and to stop the organization from conspiring to stifle the First Amendment rights of pro-life Christians. The second suit, Grooms v. Voice of Choice, Inc., seeks to protect the copyright of a personal photograph that was used on the website without permission. The third, Andersen v. Voice of Choice, Inc., regards the use of a personal photograph that includes a minor–the child of one of the abolitionists.
“When I first learned that I was on a website referring to me as a ‘bully’ for standing up against abortion, I remember thinking of how ironic it was,” Zandra Westenkirchner, the director of the Abolitionist Society of Georgia, told Christian News Network. “I was not the one propagating for the deaths of innocent children.”
Initially, she said, she took the matter in stride. However, when she realized that her daughter’s photograph was included with her profile, she became concerned.
“I feared the repercussions this could have on her. I knew that I could not stand by and do nothing,” Westenkirchner said, explaining the purpose behind the suit. “We were dealing with people who already have no qualms about killing innocent babies. Why should I trust them when they have a vengeance against those who oppose them?”
Clayton Strang of the Seattle Abolitionist Society likewise commented that he was shocked that he was being targeted as a “bully.”
“I have never bullied anyone at these ‘clinics.’ I don’t ask for names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses,” he stated. “[Instead,] we tell people about the truth of what they may be about to do, and we talk to them about their alternatives. We tell them that there is a God, and that He’s loving and just. We tell them that there is another way, and if they’ve already killed their child, that there’s forgiveness through Jesus and His work on the cross.”
“[W]e want to share that same message with others—even if they desire to harass us,” Westenkirchner added. “Therefore, with that, we will respond to the barrage of phone calls. It gives us the opportunity to share the gospel with them, which we may otherwise not have the chance to do. Until justice is served, we will respond in love and grace to the very ones who seek to harass.”