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February-26-03

Feminists Will Work to Keep Clinics Safe

Eleanor Smeal Vows to Keep Fighting Anti-Abortion Violence

WASHINGTON, DC – Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, promised to continue to defend women’s reproductive health care clinics, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today in NOW v. Scheidler. Smeal initiated the case as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1986.

“Before this lawsuit,” Smeal said, “we protected the clinics with our bodies. We will do what it takes — stand in front of clinics as we did before, use the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and every other legal option — to make sure women can exercise the right to safe, legal abortion.”

The Supreme Court’s decision today rules that forcible blockades of clinics orchestrated by Joseph Scheidler, the Pro-Life Action Network, and Operation Rescue did not meet the definition of extortion under the Hobbs Act because the defendants did not walk away with tangible property.

“It is tragic that the Supreme Court has decided that physical property has more rights than women’s freedom of choice and lives,” Smeal said.

“Religious fundamentalists should not be excused from extortion simply because they did not walk away with money in their pocket,” added Smeal. “If this is the law, then anyone with an ideological disagreement with a business can use force or violence to close down that business and the business will have no means to defend itself. Today it is rights of women, tomorrow it could be the rights of a synagogue or a church.”

For more information on the Feminist Majority Foundation visit www.feminist.org

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