Family sues over abortion attack

When a pregnant girl of 15 from Blair, Nebraska, obtained her parents' permission for an abortion the entire township, led by her 16-year-old boyfriend, mobilised to stop her.

The boy, his mother, stepfather and a group of friends stormed the girl's house. Screaming "Baby-killers, baby- killers", they kicked in the door and began hitting the girl's father. Carl Scott and his frightened family fled to the home of a cousin. Shortly after midnight, 10 squad cars surrounded the cousin's house.

The police, led by a deputy sheriff active in the anti-abortion movement, took the girl away after showing the parents a letter they had from a local doctor saying that an abortion could prove fatal. The doctor had not examined the girl but he did know she was 23 weeks pregnant.

The letter provided sufficient grounds for the police to keep the girl in custody for several hours before transferring her to the home of a foster family whom she did not know.

The next morning flyposters appeared all over town describing the Scotts as murderers. Twenty-four hours later the girl appeared before a juvenile court. The prosecutor argued, with only the doctor's letter as evidence, that the girl's health and morals had been endangered because of parental neglect.

The judge ruled that she should be released back into her parents' care but only "on condition that no abortion shall be performed on the subject's unborn child without further order of the court".

In the weeks that followed the girl was under constant surveillance. She was threatened with assault by friends of her former boyfriend, a young man whose battle to prevent the abortion had won him the admiration of most of his fellow pupils at the local high school. The girl herself was forced to stop going to school.

In December she gave birth to a daughter. But the harassment continued, so a few months later she, her child and her parents moved out of Blair.

Last week they filed a lawsuit, variously charging the boy- friend's family, the Blair deputy sheriff, the doctor and the county prosecutor with trespass, assault, false arrest and violations of constitutional rights. The boyfriend's mother, Kathy Tull, told the New York Times she was shocked the Scott family was taking legal action. "We just did what we thought was right. I said to my son that if whatever he was going through from all this was the price he had to pay for that darling little baby to be alive, it was worth it."