A nationwide conspiracy of violence. Not protests. Not free speech. Not simple picketers. Don't believe the anti-abortion forces when they say we're after their First Amendment rights. The First Amendment is not a defense for violence.
Witness after witness testified to violent acts that prevented them from entering a clinic -- harassment, intimidation, forcible blockades. For instance, a woman testified about her experience at a clinic in Los Angeles. This witness arrived at the clinic for a post-operative procedure -- unrelated to abortion. Immediately, the anti-abortion mob surrounded her, hit her with their signs and she fainted. When she awoke, she was rushed to a hospital because she was bleeding where her sutures had ruptured. The mob prevented her from entering the clinic at all.
After hearing from multiple witnesses with similar stories, a unanimous jury agreed that the defendants created and maintained a criminal enterprise.
Now the anti-abortion mob's apologists in Congress want to make it legal to organize that kind of extortion.
Women still run a gauntlet at abortion clinics. Doctors and staff at the clinics still face death threats, arson, bombing, stalking and murder. While anti-abortion forces have failed to eliminate abortion through force of law, the defendants in our case turned to direct, physical force. They are relentless in their attempts to deny women our reproductive freedom. And when federal, state or local authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute the offenders, we must take matters into our own hands and go into court ourselves.
Today's hearing was another attempt to deny us that path to justice. An amendment of the type discussed today has little to do with RICO or free speech and everything to do with abortion politics. If Charles Canady is so concerned about free speech, what took him so long to introduce the idea of amending RICO? Why did it take a verdict and the potential of a multi-million dollar judgment against his anti-abortion cronies? Is Henry Hyde so arrogant that he thinks he knows better than a jury and the Supreme Court? Should they be allowed to make an end-run around the appeals process and take away this jury verdict through after-the-fact legislation?
A jury of six men and women in Chicago saw through the anti-abortion thugs' shameless attempt to pervert the First Amendment. Our evidence and witnesses proved that these defendants used more than mere speech and assembly to deny women access to medical facilities. All this hearing proved is the right wing's determination to end abortion.