Republicans are attempting to strip the Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) proposed Bankruptcy Reform Act amendment preventing abortion protesters convicted of crimes from filing bankruptcy to evade fines. Schumer introduced the bill as a result of an alarming trend of anti-abortion extremists filing for bankruptcy after being assessed with clinic-related court judgments. The amendment would strengthen the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which made it a felony to blockade or perpetrate violence against women’s health care workers. Schumer’s amendment would prevent anti-abortion extremists convicted of those crimes from using a preexisting bankruptcy loophole: concealing their assets, filing for bankruptcy, and avoiding financial penalties inflicted by law.
As evidence of how extremists have used bankruptcy laws to evade their court-ordered judgments, Joseph Foreman, a defendant in Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Advocates, filed for bankruptcy in early June. In that case, a federal judge found twelve defendants guilty of threatening providers and awarded the plaintiffs $107.5 million. Five other defendants have already filed for bankruptcy, each within days of his court-ordered deposition.
A recent editorial in the New York Times argues that Republicans may succeed in stripping the abortion violence amendment, which passed in a vote of 80-27 in the Senate, from the final version of the bill. Schumer warned that the loophole, unless eliminated, “will inevitably undermine the effectiveness of a federal law that has proved useful in deterring and punishing clinic violence.”