The Feminist Majority Foundation is in full support of S.625, Senator Schumer’s proposed amendment to Section 523(a) of title 11, United States Code. This amendment will ensure that individuals who violate FACE and RICO be held responsible for their actions.
Ensuring that any judgment or monetary settlement resulting from clinic violence is non-dischargeable is vital to enforcing clinic protection laws to their fullest potential. Far too often, individuals who commit violence against women’s health clinics attempt to evade financial responsibility for those actions. Even after a court or a jury has assessed liability and financial damages for the violence committed, these anti-choice individuals attempt to use the bankruptcy laws as a shield for their illegal behavior. This amendment will ensure that individuals who are adjudged liable for clinic violence cannot discharge those judgments in bankruptcy.
“Clinics and pro-choice groups, going to court at their own expense have won tens of millions of dollars in damages against anti-abortion extremists,” said Sonya Proctor, Director of Law Enforcement Operations of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project, and former Interim Chief of Police of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. “Yet precious little of these damages have actually been collected by seriously aggrieved women’s health clinics and victims of anti-abortion extremists. These domestic terrorists are flaunting the law and we need more effective laws to bring them to justice. Senator Schumer’s proposed amendment will help close one major loop-hole. It will stop extremists from using bankruptcy laws to avoid any financial responsibility for the damages they have caused.”
There are several examples of why this amendment is vital. The first is Randall Terry who has just filed for bankruptcy to discharge judgments he has been assessed for violence against women’s health clinics. Randall Terry, former leader of Operation Rescue, has been sued and found libel for hundreds of thousands of dollars by several individuals and organizations for his activities against women and women’s health clinics. Terry filed for bankruptcy explicitly to avoid paying these judgments.
In addition, Terry entered a settlement agreement in NOW v. Scheidler, wherein he agreed to not use force and violence against women’s health clinics. He agreed to pay $15,000 for each breach of that agreement. Without this amendment, Terry will be able to violate this agreement – and flaunt our judicial system – with impunity.###