(CNSNews.com) – A self-described “pro-choice terrorist” now faces up to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal district court in Manhattan last week to posting an online death threat against two well-known pro-life advocates in 2010.
Theodore Shulman, 51, pleaded guilty to “one count of transmitting a threat to injure another person by threatening to kill two pro-life advocates,” on May 10, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“As Theodore Shulman now knows the hard way, the freedom to express one’s views in America is not a license to make violent threats,” Bharara said in a statement. “We will prosecute and punish those who choose to make their points through threats of violence rather than persuasion and argument.”
According to the indictment, on Jan. 14, 2010, Shulman posted a threatening message on a blog called SecondHandSmoke” that appears on the Web site FirstThings.com.
The message threatened to injure two victims, identified by the government in the indictment as “Victim-1” and “Victim-2,” who were pro-life advocates.
The threat read: “If Roeder is acquitted, someone will respond by killing [Victim-1] of [the University] and [Victim-2] of PRIESTS FOR LIFE.”
“Roeder” refers to Scott Roeder, who was convicted in 2010 for the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller.
The victims were subsequently identified as The Rev. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, and Princeton University professor Robert George, both outspoken pro-life leaders.
“I was informed today that Theodore Shulman pleaded guilty to the charges of threatening pro-life leaders, myself included,” Pavone said in a statement.
“I hope that his acceptance of personal responsibility for what he did, and his readiness to serve jail time for it, is for him the beginning of a road of conversion and repentance that will reach even to the point of renouncing his position in favor of legal abortion.”
Pavone added: “Violence against me and other leaders is wrong for the same reason that violence against children in the womb is wrong. Both must be rejected.”
Professor George did not comment for this story.
According to the FBI, Shulman was arrested in February of 2011 for possessing cyanide, castor beans and rosary peas. The toxic agent Ricin, which can be deadly after exposure to even minute quantities, is derived from castor beans.
Shulman was not charged for possession of the substances as a result of his plea deal, according to the New York Daily News.
Calling himself the “first pro-choice terrorist,” Shulman created his own blog, titled “Operation Counterstrike.” The Web site’s mission statement was: “Right-to-lifism is murder, and ALL right-to-lifers are bloody-handed accessories. Swear it, believe it, proclaim it, and act on it.”
Numerous pro-life figures say they have been the target of Shulman’s threats, including nurse and pro-life advocate Jill Stanek, who said she had received threats and assisted the FBI investigation by providing over 4,000 comments from Shulman to her Web site over a four-year period.
One comment posted on Oct. 27, 2010, read: “I’m looking forward to watching a documentary entitled ‘The Assassination of Jill Stanek.’”
Shulman’s purported threats were not limited to online communications.
Operation Rescue posted a voicemail recording of a threatening phone call that they say Shulman allegedly made to O.R. policy analyst Cheryl Sullenger, which contained the threat: “Convert to pro-choice during the few months you have left on this earth.”
“This is a huge relief to us that Ted Shulman is behind bars where he belongs,” Sullenger said in a news release on the O.R. Web site. “He often posted threatening comments to our Web site and called me on my cell phone too many times to count.
“He was always brazen in his threats and openly identified himself, telling us not to bother calling the FBI because they would never do anything for us,” Sullenger said. “Thankfully, he was wrong about that, and we hope that, in addition to his New York charges, he will also be charged in Kansas.”
Sullenger said the Wichita-based Operation Rescue continues “to work with the FBI on the Shulman case and on other cases of death threats we have received. We take every threat seriously and have taken extra security precautions to insure our safety.”
In a statement, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk said that the FBI takes death threats very seriously.
“There is a distinction between advocacy of one’s beliefs and making threats against those who disagree,” Fedarcyk said in a statement. “Advocacy is a right protected by the FBI. Making threats is a serious crime.”
Pavone, meanwhile, said that threats of violence and violence against pro-life activists is “are far more common, yet far less visible in the media, than violence and threats of violence against abortionists and abortion supporters.”
“In fact, the latter have used a handful of violent acts by people disconnected from the pro-life movement to try to tar the reputation of the entire movement, and those tactics should have no more place in the public debate over abortion than should violence itself.”
Sentencing for Shulman, who faces 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, will take place on Sept. 12. He has been held without bail since his arrest.
Shulman is the son of feminist Alix Kates Shulman, author of the 1972 novel “Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen” that deals with illegal abortion and rape. She has reportedly said that she has had four abortions, and “not one was the result of carelessness.”