WASHINGTON, DC – In a victory for pro-choice advocates, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit today ruled that WANTED-style posters and an Internet hit list are threats under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). The court upheld the injunctive relief in the case but remanded the case for further review regarding the size of the punitive damage award.
“Today, the Ninth Circuit took a major step toward combating the climate of fear and violence that plagues abortion clinics throughout the nation,” stated Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We welcome the Court’s decision and hope that it will help end the domestic terrorism that providers, clinic workers, and patients face daily.”
The National Clinic Access Project of the Feminist Majority Foundation led a group of 13 reproductive rights organizations that filed an amicus brief in the case.
The case challenged two types of threats. First, the defendants had distributed “Wanted”-style posters with doctor’s names on them; there has been a pattern of such posters being distributed before the murder of abortion providers. Second, the case challenged the Nuremberg Files website which collected personal information about abortion providers, made that information publicly available, grayed the names of providers who had been injured, and struck out the names of providers who had been killed.
“The defendants kept asserting that this case was about the First Amendment,” Smeal said. “Threats are not protected by the First Amendment and that is was these posters and the website are. We expect that the website will be closed down. We hope that anti-abortion extremists will learn that the violence and fear they preach will not be tolerated.”
Founded in 1987, the Feminist Majority Foundation is the largest feminist research and action organization in the country. For more information, visit www.feminist.org.###