The US Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it would hear for the third time a long-running case dealing with clinic violence. The case, National Organization for Women, et al v. Joseph Scheidler, et al, was first initiated in 1986 under the leadership of Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, who was then president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and Susan Hill, president of the National Women’s Health Organization. NOW sued Joseph Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action Network, among others, arguing that they conspired illegally to close women’s reproductive health clinics, by using threats and extortionate acts against doctors, clinic employees and patients, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
“The RICO case was a turning point in the fight for abortion rights,” said Hill. “It was the first time there was an organized effort to fight back against what we believed to be illegal means of interfering with services [provided by women’s health clinics.] I think that the Court’s actions in the late 1990s helped to save [abortion] providers’ and women’s lives.”
NOW and the National Women’s Health Organization were successful the first time the case appeared before the US Supreme Court in 1994, but in 2003 the Supreme Court reversed its previous decision, sending the case back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court renewed the case on the grounds that threats of violence or violent acts may have been enough to initiate a lawsuit under RICO. The court refused to cancel the nationwide injunction barring anti-abortion protestors from trespassing in or near abortion clinics.
"We're grateful the injunction has been keeping women safe for seven years, and the Court's decision to give the case a full hearing will ensure that it stays in place at least until the Court renders a final decision,” said NOW President Kim Gandy.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .