Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

February-26-03

Supreme Court Sides With Anti-Abortion Protestors

The US Supreme Court decided today 8-1 that abortion clinics could not be protected from forcible blockades by anti-abortion extremists under federal racketeering laws. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) immediately issued statements promising to continue to defend women’s reproductive rights despite the Supreme Court’s verdict in NOW v. Scheidler, a landmark case initiated in 1986 by FMF president Eleanor Smeal as president of NOW to curtail violence against women’s reproductive health care centers.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist argued that because the defendants did not walk away with tangible property from the clinics, they could not be punished under the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Furthermore, Rehnquist wrote, “even when their acts of interference and disruption achieved their ultimate goal of ‘shutting down’ a clinic that performed abortions, such acts did not constitute extortion.” Anti-abortion extremist Joseph Scheidler, one of the defendants, said that Operation Rescue is already planning to increase its anti-abortion protests, according to Voice of America.

“It is tragic that the Supreme Court has decided that physical property has more rights than women’s freedom of choice and lives,” said Smeal. “Religious fundamentalists should not be excused from extortion simply because they did not walk away with money in their pocket. 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.”

NOW president Kim Gandy said in a statement that “a woman’s right to seek medical services from a clinic, and the clinics right to provide these services … [are] now under greater threat… With this reversal, NOW rededicates itself to the protection of women’s legal right to abortion.”

Justice John Paul Stevens submitted the only dissenting opinion. Stevens criticized the Court’s “murky” opinion and argued that the decision limits the protection of property owners.

Media Resources: Supreme Court decision 2/26/03; Voice of America 2/26/03; Associated Press 2/26/03; Feminist Majority Foundation, NOW release 2/26/03


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

7/29/2015 An Extreme Abortion Ban is Now Law in Wisconsin - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed an extreme 20 week abortion ban into law last week. The law, which bans abortions performed past 20 weeks, has no exception whatsoever for rape, incest, or fatal fetal anomalies. . . .
 
7/29/2015 Jen Welter Just Made NFL History - Jen Welter was hired as a coach for the Arizona Cardinals this week, becoming the first woman ever to be a National Football League coach. . . .
 
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell as out of order. Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of two heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .