AMA Asks Court to Rehear Case That Weakened Physician Protection Against Threats of Violence

Apr 19, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Medical Association

    CHICAGO, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Underscoring its strong opposition to
 violent threats and intimidation used against physicians, the American Medical
 Association (AMA) announced today it has filed an amicus curiae brief asking a
 federal court to reconsider its decision to lift an injunction against a Web
 site containing incendiary rhetoric hostile to physicians.
     The amicus brief was filed in response to a March 28 decision rendered by
 a three-judge panel of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the
 case of Planned Parenthood, et al. v. American Coalition of Life Activists.
 The appellate decision threw out a 1999 jury verdict against radical
 anti-abortion activists who threaten health care professionals by listing them
 on a Web site under the categories "working," "wounded" and "fatality."
     Alarmed that use of violent threats and intimidation against physicians
 has received judicial approval under the First Amendment, the AMA is
 requesting that the case receive a rehearing in front of a comprehensive panel
 of judges from the U.S. Ninth Circuit.
     "The freedom to speak out against issues such as abortion does not include
 the right to publish menacing messages designed to incite violence and
 authorize harm," said AMA Trustee Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD.  "If the
 panel's flawed approach is not corrected, physicians and nurses -- and with
 them, the integrity of the health care system itself -- will suffer
 incalculable harm."
     The AMA believes that the continued operation of this Web site constitutes
 a deliberate threat to physicians.  There can be little doubt about the
 ominous intentions of this Web site when the authors clearly state that
 physicians and other health care providers are listed "so we can punish these
 people."  Heightening the AMA's alarm is the fact that these threatening
 messages were published in the midst of a longstanding terrorist campaign of
 murder, arson and other violence.  In fact, seven physicians and health care
 professionals who provide abortion services have been murdered in the past
 eight years.
     The AMA's amicus effort was spearheaded by Judge William A. Norris, a
 retired judge of the Ninth Circuit who is now in private practice in Los
 Angeles.  "I'm honored to represent the AMA before my former colleagues,"
 Judge Norris commented.  "I share the AMA's concern that the panel decision
 conflicts with established First Amendment law as well as time-honored rules
 governing appellate review."
     The AMA amicus brief is available online at:
 http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/article/1616-4551.html .
 
 

SOURCE American Medical Association
    CHICAGO, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Underscoring its strong opposition to
 violent threats and intimidation used against physicians, the American Medical
 Association (AMA) announced today it has filed an amicus curiae brief asking a
 federal court to reconsider its decision to lift an injunction against a Web
 site containing incendiary rhetoric hostile to physicians.
     The amicus brief was filed in response to a March 28 decision rendered by
 a three-judge panel of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the
 case of Planned Parenthood, et al. v. American Coalition of Life Activists.
 The appellate decision threw out a 1999 jury verdict against radical
 anti-abortion activists who threaten health care professionals by listing them
 on a Web site under the categories "working," "wounded" and "fatality."
     Alarmed that use of violent threats and intimidation against physicians
 has received judicial approval under the First Amendment, the AMA is
 requesting that the case receive a rehearing in front of a comprehensive panel
 of judges from the U.S. Ninth Circuit.
     "The freedom to speak out against issues such as abortion does not include
 the right to publish menacing messages designed to incite violence and
 authorize harm," said AMA Trustee Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD.  "If the
 panel's flawed approach is not corrected, physicians and nurses -- and with
 them, the integrity of the health care system itself -- will suffer
 incalculable harm."
     The AMA believes that the continued operation of this Web site constitutes
 a deliberate threat to physicians.  There can be little doubt about the
 ominous intentions of this Web site when the authors clearly state that
 physicians and other health care providers are listed "so we can punish these
 people."  Heightening the AMA's alarm is the fact that these threatening
 messages were published in the midst of a longstanding terrorist campaign of
 murder, arson and other violence.  In fact, seven physicians and health care
 professionals who provide abortion services have been murdered in the past
 eight years.
     The AMA's amicus effort was spearheaded by Judge William A. Norris, a
 retired judge of the Ninth Circuit who is now in private practice in Los
 Angeles.  "I'm honored to represent the AMA before my former colleagues,"
 Judge Norris commented.  "I share the AMA's concern that the panel decision
 conflicts with established First Amendment law as well as time-honored rules
 governing appellate review."
     The AMA amicus brief is available online at:
 http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/article/1616-4551.html .
 
 SOURCE  American Medical Association