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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-16-99

Statement by Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation, on Federal Nationwide Injunction Issued Against Anti-Abortion Extremists, Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Action League in NOW v. Scheidler

WASHINGTON, DC -- 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. 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.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, please contact Lara Hearnburg at 703-522-2214.

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© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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