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Mediation encouraged in anti-abortion Web site trial

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A bitter court appeal over an anti-abortion Website is this week once more set to test freedom of speech in cyberspace.

Lawyers on opposing sides - representing either stringent anti-abortionists or abortion doctors - have been given until today to reach a compromise by a
Federal Appeal Court in Oregon.

If they fail to agree, which looks highly likely, the court will have to consider the appeal.

The feud centres on last February's court decision that anti-abortionists pay $109 million damages for a site listing the personal information of around 200 abortion doctors. Names, addresses, vehicle number plates and some doctors' children's names were placed online at the "Nuremberg files" site. (It's easy to find if you want to see it.)

This was serious stuff - if the targets were killed they were crossed off the list, while those wounded were shaded in grey. In all, three doctors were murdered. At the time, the judge in the case said the site read like a "wanted" poster.

But the anti-abortionists claim the site was protected under the First Amendment, CourtTV Online reports. Free speech, apparently, which never incited violence against any of the doctors listed.

The current mediation period is not expected to result in an agreement being reached - which will throw the decision back to the appeal panel. ®

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