The U.S. Supreme Court voted in a unanimous decision to uphold the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act of 1994, a decisive victory for reproductive health care and for protection of women against violence.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act is crucial to protecting workers at abortion clinics. Stalkers obtained home addresses of individuals from state departments of motor vehicles using their license plate numbers. For some time, anti-abortion extremists’ publications have encouraged the identification of doctors, staffs, and patients through these license plate numbers.
“This Supreme Court decision will save the lives of both abortion providers and women targeted by stalkers. One of the weapons of anti-abortion extremists has finally been taken away,” stated Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation.
The Attorney General of South Carolina challenged the federal Act on the grounds of states’ rights in response to the 1989 killing of actress Rebecca Schaeffer by a stalker who got her address from drivers’ license records.
Our National Clinic Access Legal Director, Sara Love, and Professor Erwin Chemerinsky (University of Southern California Law School) completed an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court defending the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA). The brief was filed on behalf of the Feminist Majority Foundation and 16 amici including: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Center for Reproductive Law and Policy; NARAL; NOW; NOW LDEF; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; ACLU; National Center for Victims of Crime; and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The DPPA prohibits state departments of motor vehicles, and their employees, from disclosing personal information about individuals without their consent. As the amicus brief states “the Act is crucial to protecting women from stalking and violence.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Center for Women & Policing and National Clinic Access Project represent victims of both domestic violence and anti-abortion clinic violence in this important amicus brief.
The Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act, introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Warner (R-VA), was inspired by acts of violence against women and reproductive health care professionals who had been stalked and murdered by individuals who learned their addresses through use of information gained from state departments of motor vehicles.
Editor’s Note: The Feminist Majority Foundation operates the National Clinic Access Project, the oldest and largest clinic access project in the nation. Since 1993, the Feminist Majority Foundation has produced the National Clinic Violence Survey Report, which provides an analysis of anti-abortion violence trends. Copies of the report may be obtained by contacting the Feminist Majority Foundation.