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February 26, 2003


Communications Department

Scheidler v. NOW Decision Is Not a Victory for Anti-Choice Extremists

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation

Washington, DC - The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision in Scheidler v. NOW and their narrow interpretation of extortion under the Hobbs Act. However, this decision does not give anti-choice protesters and extremists the right to commit illegal or criminal activity outside reproductive health care clinics. The Supreme Court acknowledged that Joseph Scheidler and other anti-choice extremists did, in fact, engage in coercive illegal activity at clinics. This ruling simply means that they cannot be prosecuted under RICO statutes.

At the time this lawsuit was initiated, there was no specific federal law that protected abortion providers from anti-choice violence and preserved patient access to abortion clinics. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act which was passed in 1994 makes it a federal crime to use "force or threat of force" to intimidate or interfere with people obtaining or providing reproductive health services. FACE has been used and will continue to be used to stop anti-choice violence.

Scheidler v. NOW is not a victory for the anti-choice movement and it would be a mistake for that movement to interpret this decision as giving extremists the right to engage in illegal criminal activity against abortion providers, patients and clinics. NAF will continue to work closely with law enforcement at every level to ensure that those who use violence to try to stop women from receiving abortion care, or try to stop providers from providing that care, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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