Led by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), several women House members and abortion rights organizations including the Feminist Majority, National Abortion Rights and Action League, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Abortion Federation, the National Women’s Law Center, and the National Organization for Women, gathered yesterday in support for the Schumer-Hatch amendment to the bankruptcy bill which would ensure that anti-abortion extremists cannot file for bankruptcy to avoid paying fines for threats and violence against abortion providers and family planning clinics.
Declaring bankruptcy in order to avoid paying fines assessed for threats or perpetration of clinic violence is a strategy that has recently been attempted by a number of anti-abortion extremists, including six of the defendants in Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA). Only last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in Planned Parenthood v. ACLA, which acknowledged the threat posed by the Nuremberg Files website and the two “WANTED” style posters targeting specific doctors. These extremists, along with Operation Rescue leaders such as Randall Terry, Joseph Foreman, and Joseph Scheidler, all stand to avoid penalties assessed against them if the loophole is not closed.
At the press conference, Representative Schakowsky said, “We are sending a clear and strong message to all those who would tolerate allowing anti-choice extremists the right to avoid punishment: We will not stand for it! Those who break the law by harassing, threatening, and intimidating women entering clinics, who send death threats to women’s health care providers, and who vandalize health clinics must not get away without punishment.”