NOW v. Scheidler Ruling Not the End: Feminists Vow to Continue Fighting for Women's Lives
Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy
February 26, 2003
NOW applauds Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent criticizing the majority's "murky" opinion and noting that the main beneficiaries of today's ruling are professional criminals. Even Chief Justice William Rehnquist admitted in the Court's opinion that Joe Scheidler and his co-conspirators committed crimes which "completely deprived respondents of their ability to exercise their property rights." However, the ruling went on to overturn decades of case law, making this a banner day for criminal kingpins. Tony Soprano would love this decision—it says you can shut down someone's business as long as you don't take possession of their property.
We filed the NOW v. Scheidler suit 17 years ago, and have used the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to protect women and clinic staff from a centrally orchestrated violent campaign to close abortion clinics nationwide. We won the first-ever nationwide injunction against anti-abortion clinic violence and, in fact, the violence did stop. Protestors still demonstrated and shouted outside the clinics, but the physical harm, property damage and trespassing ended.
With this reversal, NOW rededicates itself to the protection of women's legal right to abortion. We will work to ensure that the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) is enforced. But that is not enough. FACE is too limited and doesn't reach the organizers of the violence. We will use whatever is at our disposal to see to it that religious and political extremists do not resume their reign of terror at women's clinics. We are looking at every avenue available to us to protect women, doctors and clinic staff from these ideological terrorists.
###For Immediate Release
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