Pro-Life Activist Stabbed Outside Abortion Clinic

Mark Mead | July 7, 2008 | 8:19pm EDT
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( - The investigation of a little-known incident in which a pro-life activist was stabbed outside a Little Rock, Ark. abortion clinic remains open, leaving many pro-life advocates alleging official indifference to the case.

Attorney Fred Hart and friend Jim Dawson were protesting outside the Family Health Care Clinic on May 18 when, according to police reports, two women yelled obscene words out of a truck.

One woman "exited and grabbed [Hart's] sign and took off running."

The woman, later identified as Amanda Sue Petzak, of Sherwood, Ark., fell to the ground and dropped Hart's sign. When Hart bent over to pick up the sign, the woman allegedly stabbed him in his left side with a knife.

According to the police report, Petzak turned herself in and told authorities that during a discussion over abortion, Hart "threw her to the ground," and in the process he was cut.

The incident, however, was recorded on videotape by Dawson, and is being reviewed by the police department.

Friends of Hart said he has recovered from the stabbing. As the investigation continues, Anne Dierks, a spokeswoman for Arkansas Right to Life, wonders why, with the videotape evidence, the case has not been open-and-shut.

"I don't see it as a big story," she said. "What I would like to believe is that since nothing has been done, then there is nothing to it."

A spokesman for the Little Rock Police Department told the investigation "is still pending and they're still working on it."

"I sure don't have any facts about it," the spokesman said, "and I'm not sure what they're going to release on that, if anything. There may be other investigations involved with it."

With information about the investigation being withheld from the public, Laura Echevarria of the National Right to Life Committee believes the incident, which received little media coverage, highlights an inherent anti-pro-life bias in the media.

"It's not surprising and we are kind of use to it," she said of the low coverage. "But it is surprising when there is a police report - and things like this do happen - and the media doesn't pick up on it."

Echevarria, however, believes that the national media have not intentionally ignored the incident.

"I don't think it is a deliberate attempt to cover it up," she said. "Rather, I think it's an attitude that says, 'Oh, it's not a big deal; Roe v. Wade is legal; he probably deserved it.' It's just the nature of the media."

"After all," she notes, "recent surveys have shown - and they have been consistent over the years - that 85 to 90 percent of the media believe that Roe v. Wade was a good thing."

No correlation has been drawn between the woman who allegedly stabbed Hart and anti-pro-life groups. A spokesperson at the Family Health Care Clinic said the women who were involved in the incident "had nothing to do with the clinic."

"Of course this being beside an abortion clinic made it look like it had something to do with us," the spokesperson said, "but I think it all had to do with him. From what I hear, they were just driving by. They stopped to ask questions and got into a scuffle with [Hart] - instigated by him."

The spokesperson said Hart disturbs their business "all the time." But Dierks, who knows Hart personally, considers him "one of the most gentle human beings there is."

"His temperament is very gentle and kind," she said. "He's a passionate pro-lifer, but he's never harmed a soul."

"[The media] tries to make a lot out of incidents like this," Dierks said, "that we're violent and crazy and all that kind of stuff. In this case, it may be they're finding that that's not true."

In fact, Echevarria says it is not uncommon to have the media take no notice of instances in which pro-lifers are attacked or threatened.

"There have been many instances where our affiliates and other individual pro-lifers have had death threats and bomb threats," she said, "and the media doesn't cover that."

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