Landmark Won! Civil RICO Case Cracks Anti-Abortion Ring of Conspiracy
National Feminist Leader Eleanor Smeal Calls for Use of Criminal RICO to End Violence
Washington DC -- Today, in Chicago, Illinois, a federal jury handed down the precedent-setting decision in the class action RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler. This case, originally filed in 1986 when Eleanor Smeal was National President of NOW, was brought in an attempt to end increasing violence, harassment, and intimidation at family planning and abortion clinics nationwide.
Smeal, currently the President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, commented on the national significance of today's decision saying:
"Today, pro-choice forces, after 12 years of litigation, have proven in civil court for the first time that there is a nationwide organized conspiracy to illegally close family planning, abortion, and women's reproductive health clinics. We hope today's decision will embolden federal law enforcement to take a criminal RICO case to shut down the anti-abortion reign of terror once and for all.
For over ten years, we have been telling federal law enforcement that there is an organized campaign of terror being waged against clinics and doctors providing family planning and abortion services. In 1986, we took this case to do all we could as citizens to prevent bloodshed and violence at women's reproductive health clinics nationwide. Ironically, we decided to take this case after the anti-abortion extremist invasion of the Pensacola health clinic where later Dr. John Bayard Britton and clinic escort Colonel James Barrett were murdered.
Finally, after twelve years, we have cracked the violent anti-abortion conspiracy to close abortion clinics, but we will not stop here. We intend to urge federal law enforcement to use criminal RICO and go after each and every one of the anti-abortion extremists who engage in violence and illegal activity to attain their goal of denying women their constitutional right to abortion."
Smeal, commenting on the national impact of the class action lawsuit, said:
"This decision indicates a turning of the anti-abortion violent tide for unsung heroes like Susan Hill, President of the class plaintiff National Women's Health Organization, which represents a class of over 900 women's health clinics nationwide. Every day Hill and her clinics face some of the most severe anti-abortion extremism in the United States. To date, her clinics have been a primary target of anti-abortion terrorism resulting in 15 arsons/bombings, massive harassment leading to over 2,000 arrests, and the murder of one of their providers, Dr. David Gunn."
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .