“We need to have an American version of the Nuremberg trials for crimes against humanity,” prominent pro-life attorney Thomas W. Condit can be heard saying in a YouTube video of a July rally held outside of a Cincinnati Planned Parenthood center, shortly after the release of the first Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video.
“Yeah! Hang ’em! They will burn!” shouts Reverend Michael Bray, who was convicted in 1985 on conspiracy charges related to the bombing of several abortion clinics in the greater D.C. area, as he films Condit’s remarks.
On his personal website, Bray boasts of having “spent four years in federal prison in connection with the destruction of several abortion facilities,” and of his 1994 book, A Time To Kill, which he describes as “an ethical treatise on the use of force in defense of the child in the womb.”
In Bray’s YouTube video of the rally, Condit continues, “The people who work here, the people who work in abortion clinics around the country, we should get them when they wake up in the morning [so that] they are seeing visions of abortionists, the doctors, the clinic workers, the clinic directors, their lawyers, hanging by their necks after a fair trial.”
When Condit concludes his remarks, the crowd applauds and cheers. Before Bray turns off his camera, he editorializes, “The truth was spoken there, boy.”
The Catholic Telegraph estimated that this protest, held on July 28 as part of a nationwide anti-Planned Parenthood campaign called “Women Betrayed,” was attended by nearly 500 people. They described it as a “peaceful rally.” Maybe they missed the “hanging” part.
In the wake of Robert Lewis Dear’s alleged killing of a police officer and two civilians at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in late November, attention has turned to the possible relationship between the CMP videos, escalating pro-life rhetoric, and increased violence against abortion providers.
According to the National Abortion Federation, incidents of harassment at Planned Parenthood facilities increased nine fold from June to July, and continued to increase through August. In September, the FBI warned that “it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff, and facilities.”
Pro-choice commentators have argued that the rhetoric used by pro-lifers following the CMP’s video campaign is “irresponsible,” while pro-life critics have distanced the movement from Dear’s alleged actions. But Condit, whose comments calling for Nuremberg-style trials of abortion providers have not been widely publicized, is not some fringe outsider in the pro-life movement. He is part of its center.
Condit is publicly associated with the Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), which counts Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden as a client. Daleiden told The Daily Beast that Condit does not represent either himself or the CMP, and maintained that he had not heard of him until today. When asked about Condit’s remarks, the LLDF told The Daily Beast that he is associated with the organization and that they have supported some of his litigation but he is not their employee.
Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the LLDF, told The Daily Beast that they “do not condone violence” and that Condit is one of “several thousand” attorneys who is associated with the organization.
In addition to his association with the LLDF, Condit is one of two attorneys representing former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline in his suit to reclaim his law license after it was suspended in 2013 for violations of professional conduct related to his aggressive investigation of Planned Parenthood. That investigation resulted in 107 since-dismissed charges against the women’s health provider. Kline is regarded as a “pro-life hero” for his efforts against Planned Parenthood and Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered in 2009 by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder.
In the video of the July rally, Condit argues that the pro-life movement needs to “up the ante” of the language that they use in order to “recapture the debate.” He calls Planned Parenthood doctors “contract killers” who “take money to kill people.” They are “worse than mafia hitmen,” he claims, because they “kill the innocent.”
“We need to talk even more extreme than that to recapture the ground,” he continues, before launching into his call for Nuremberg-style trials of abortion providers.
In the background, Bray can be heard yelling “Filthy murderers!” twice. After Condit invokes “hanging,” Bray shouts, “Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!” His camera shakes with the force of his voice.
In a blog post written after the rally, Bray recalled: “The crowd clapped [at Condit’s remarks] and I joined in the same jubilation upon hearing such truth so rarely uttered in public with a loudly audible, ‘Filthy murderers!’ How good it felt to hear the truth spoken in a public gathering on the streets. And how seldom is it proclaimed before a crowd in the streets for all who will to exult in.”
Bray refers to Condit in the post as a “most beloved friend” who has “no equal in the land as a writer of legal briefs and advocate before judges in behalf of [pro-life] activists.” Bray himself was named in a 1994 FBI inquiry into anti-abortion violence and he has been called the “lifetime chaplain” of the Christian terrorist organization Army of God, which supports violence against abortion providers, and which called last week’s shooting in Colorado a case of Planned Parenthood “reap[ing] what they sow.”
When asked by the Los Angeles Times after the Colorado Springs shooting whether or not the rhetoric around the Planned Parenthood videos had “inspired” the incident, Bray responded, “I suppose it could. But I don’t see any reason to hold back the truth because you are afraid of the consequences.”
Update 12/4/15 5:30 PM: Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Condit stood by his remarks at the July rally.
“Yup, that sounds accurate,” he said, after The Daily Beast repeated his remarks back to him.
When asked directly if he thinks abortion providers should be hanged, Condit said, “Yeah, sure! The method of capital punishment is, I guess, up to the individual state but do they deserve the death penalty? Yes, they do.”
He offered the following rationale for his beliefs: "Beyond any doubt, the unborn child is a living human being from the moment of conception. As a matter of science, there's just no doubt about it. The abortion industry exists and thrives only because they've been able to cast doubt on that or just out flat out deny it ... And the true pro-life position is that that unborn child has every bit as much of a right to life as anyone who's been already born. It's a child made in the image and likeness of God and it's a living human being that deserves the full protection of the U.S. Constitution, among other things."So, abortion kills a whole class of living human beings. It's murder that's been made legal by a Supreme Court decision that effectively delegitimized the Supreme Court because these are living human beings. ... We don't let the government kill innocent human beings in America. Therefore, by direct analogy to what happened under Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, these are crimes against humanity and there's no reason not to have an American Nuremberg trial just like happened after World War II in Germany."