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CBS Hypes: 'Doctors Who Perform Abortions Fear for Their Lives'

On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric warned of violence against abortion doctors, based flyers being circulated by a pro-life group: "Their pictures are showing up on posters. Now doctors who perform abortions fear for their lives." The posters in question did not call for any violence whatsoever.

Despite that fact, Couric later introduced the story by declaring: "Now some doctors in North Carolina...fear they're being marked for murder." Correspondent Michelle Miller reported: "They look like wanted posters from the wild west, but they're not photos of criminals, but of doctors in North Carolina who perform abortions." She noted how the doctors in question "asked us to block their faces." In dramatic fashion, a doctor with a blurred face and altered voice argued: "It doesn't say 'wanted dead or alive,' but the implication is very clearly there."

Miller went on to explain: "This doctor is one of the targets. Fearing for his life, he asked to remain anonymous." She then wondered: "Are you ever looking over your shoulder?" Miller then portrayed the pro-life group behind the posters as menacing: "Those responsible for the flyers - Operation Save America - repeatedly protest abortions at women's health clinics in the Charlotte area, claiming the doctors harm women and kill babies. They list specific addresses and urge people to contact doctors there. One poster even cites a home address." The unidentified doctor proclaimed: "These wanted posters are a call for my murder."

Attempting to draw a connection between the flyers and past murders of abortion doctors, Miller pointed out: "In the 1990s, similar flyers were distributed in other cities. Then came the murders. In 1993, Pensacola Dr. David Gunn and Dr. George Patterson in Alabama. Dr. John Britton was gunned down a year later in Florida. All were targets of the wanted poster campaign." A sound bite followed from Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the left-wing pro-abortion group Feminist Majority Foundation: "We know what the pattern has been year after year. Wanted poster, murder. Wanted poster, murder. We need tough prosecution before more doctors are murdered."

Miller did provide some time to Operation Save America founder Flip Benham, but only to level accusations against him: "So do you think these incite violence?"

Near the end of the story, Miller went back to the anonymous doctor, replaying an earlier sound bit of him claiming "The posters are meant to call for my murder." Miller asserted: "They're just putting out the bait." The doctor replied: "They're putting out the bait, they're putting out the call, and hoping somebody will respond." Miller concluded: "Women's rights groups have called for the Justice Department to investigate the posters, fearing history could repeat itself."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

6:30PM ET TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: Their pictures are showing up on posters. Now doctors who perform abortions fear for their lives.

6:42PM ET TEASE:

COURIC: But up next, doctors who perform abortions showing up on wanted posters.

6:44PM ET SEGMENT:

COURIC: Abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in this country. Now some doctors in North Carolina who perform them fear they're being marked for murder. Michelle Miller reports on the posters and flyers that are appearing throughout the state.

MICHELLE MILLER: They look like wanted posters from the wild west, but they're not photos of criminals, but of doctors in North Carolina who perform abortions. They asked us to block their faces.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It doesn't say 'wanted dead or alive,' but the implication is very clearly there.

MILLER: This doctor is one of the targets. Fearing for his life, he asked to remain anonymous. Are you ever looking over your shoulder?

MAN: I'm always looking over my shoulder. I know they know my car, I know they know my face. They've put these posters in my neighborhood.

MILLER: Those responsible for the flyers - Operation Save America - repeatedly protest abortions at women's health clinics in the Charlotte area, claiming the doctors harm women and kill babies. They list specific addresses and urge people to contact doctors there. One poster even cites a home address.

MAN: These wanted posters are a call for my murder.

MILLER: In the 1990s, similar flyers were distributed in other cities. Then came the murders. In 1993, Pensacola Dr. David Gunn and Dr. George Patterson in Alabama. Dr. John Britton was gunned down a year later in Florida. All were targets of the wanted poster campaign. Dr. George Tiller, seen on this flier, survived an assassination attempt in 1993, but was killed inside his church last year.

KATHERINE SPILLAR [EXECUTIVE VP, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION]: We know what the pattern has been year after year. Wanted poster, murder. Wanted poster, murder. We need tough prosecution before more doctors are murdered.

MILLER: So do you think these incite violence?

FLIP BENHAM [OPERATION SAVE AMERICA]: No, I don't at all. As a matter of fact, many of these have met Christ.

MILLER: Flip Benham founded Operation Save America and says the new posters are not threatening.

BENHAM: If you read the writing in there, it's 'wanted by Christ.' We want them to meet Jesus.

MILLER: Federal law makes it a crime to use force or even the threat of force to prevent people from accessing clinics like this one. In 2002, a U.S. appeals court ruled that wanted posters like these were a violation of that law.

JAN CRAWFORD: The decision back in 2002 only affects that region and that area. It doesn't affect the posters in Charlotte that are at issue now.

MAN: The posters are meant to call for my murder.

MILLER: They're just putting out the bait.

MAN: They're putting out the bait, they're putting out the call, and hoping somebody will respond.

MILLER: Women's rights groups have called for the Justice Department to investigate the posters, fearing history could repeat itself. Michelle Miller, CBS News, Charlotte.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.