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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
CNS Misleads on Abortion Case
A Nov. 30 article by Jeff Johnson on abortion-related cases currently before the Supreme Court started off well but then descended into its typical anti-abortion bias.

Johnson started off by offering a balanced account of a debate over a New Hampshire "parental notification" law. However, he then served up statements from two anti-abortion groups that are unbalanced by any comment from pro-choice (or "pro-abortion" in CNS parlance) representatives.

In the final two paragraphs of the article, Johnson wrote:

The Supreme Court will also hear oral arguments Wednesday in the consolidated cases of Scheidler v. National Organization for Women and Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women.

NOW is seeking to have peaceful protests on public sidewalks near abortion clinics declared acts of "extortion" subject to federal prosecution under the racketeering statutes enacted by Congress to fight organized interstate criminal activity.

That is a misleading description of the case. As the Associated Press reported, the main thrust of the issue is whether the fact that the anti-abortion protesters in question made threats of violence against clinics -- belying the "peaceful" description forwarded by Johnson -- makes the protesters liable under the racketeering statutes. From the AP article:

A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction against the anti-abortion protesters after a Chicago jury found in 1998 that demonstrators had engaged in a pattern of racketeering by interfering with clinic operations, menacing doctors, assaulting patients and damaging clinic property.

The Supreme Court ruled that because the protesters had not extorted money or valuables from the clinics, there was no basis for a racketeering violation or the injunction. But the appeals court found that the high court had not considered fully four counts of making a threat of violence that might be enough to support the ban.

Again, Johnson's description of the anti-abortion protesters as "peaceful" is far from accurate.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:20 PM EST

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