Statement by Eleanor Smeal, President Feminist Majority Foundation on Federal Nationwide Injunction Issued Against Anti-Abortion Extremists
Today, in Chicago, Illinois, Federal Court Judge David Coar took the bold step of issuing a nationwide injunction to protect women's health clinics from harassment, intimidation and anti-abortion violence. This ruling stems from the NOW v. Scheidler case which was brought by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Women's Health Organization against Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Action League, and other anti-abortion extremists.
Eleanor Smeal commented on the significance of today's decision: "Thirteen years ago, as president of the National Organization for Women, I initiated a lawsuit which has finally resulted in a first-ever nationwide, permanent, federal court injunction against Operation Rescue, the Pro-Life Action League (PLAN) and all individuals acting in concert with them from interfering with the right of a woman to secure an abortion or a clinic to provide abortions. I believed then, and do now, that Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Action League acted in concert with extremists nationwide and violated the rights of women and the rights of clinics-and now finally, 13 years later a federal court has recognized this fact, by giving law enforcement more power and more clout to protect clinics. Finally, a federal court has found that the defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (civil "RICO") and operated an unlawful enterprise."
The importance of this federal injunction issued today is that it provides more clout to federal law enforcement, state law enforcement and local law enforcement to close this nationwide enterprise. With this opinion, a federal court is shutting down - for the first time - a unlawful enterprise operating nationwide to deny women abortion services. Until now, it has been case by case, jurisdiction by jurisdiction - this is now an order that protects women's health clinics nation wide. This groundbreaking injunction differs from the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance Act (FACE) and provides another avenue for women and clinics to pursue justice. Under FACE they must go to the U.S. Attorney in their jurisdiction who report to the U.S. Attorney General. If neither is interested in pursuing the case, the only option that remains federally for the women, or the clinic, is to take an independent civil action.
Under this nationwide injunction they can go to law enforcement and then to the federal court where the violation occurred or this court which is already knowledgeable about anti-abortion violence, no matter who is the U.S. Attorney General or U.S. Attorney. The Feminist Majority Foundation provided research assistance for this historic case and runs the largest nationwide clinic defense program which includes: providing security services, legal assistance, direct assistance to embattled clinics, as well as aiding communities in countering anti-abortion violence. Sara Love, Legal Defense Director for the Feminist Majority Foundation, was an attorney in the Chicago law firm Robinson, Curley and Clayton which litigated the NOW v. Scheidler for NOW. The FMF's Clinic Defense Project annually issues the most comprehensive study of clinic violence. In 1998, some 22% of all abortion clinics in the US suffered from severe clinic violence.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation - July 19, 1999
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .