Abortion Provider Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct in S.C. Incident

July 3, 2012 — An abortion doctor facing felony charges for pointing a gun at protesters pled guilty on Friday to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

Gary Boyle of Tennessee was arrested Oct. 2, 2010, by Charleston, S.C., police following an incident outside the Charleston Women's Medical Center. According to police, Boyle raised a loaded handgun at antiabortion protesters from inside his car.

Boyle and his wife said the protesters approached the car and that the move was in self defense. They told police they were aware of other attacks on abortion providers and feared for their safety.

An attorney entered the plea for Boyle, who did not appear in court. He initially was charged with the felony of pointing a firearm at a person, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The judge accepted Boyle's guilty plea to the reduced charge and ordered him to pay a $100 fine.

The prosecutor acknowledged that the case raised "significant castle doctrine issues," referring to a South Carolina statute that protects residents from criminal prosecutions and civil liability if they use deadly force to repel an intruder, according to the Post and Courier (Bird, Charleston Post and Courier, 6/29).