Jessica Mason Pieklo, senior legal analyst for the United Nations Foundation blog, Reproductive Health Reality Check, needs a reality check.
Her Nov. 26 opinion piece confirms her self-admitted shortcomings, as she confessed, “My feminism [is] not always on target, and my politics [are] not always appropriate. I sometimes behave badly.”
Attorney General Eric Holder's record for prosecuting people under FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entry) is dismal. In fact, in Florida the charges against pro-life advocate Mary Susan Pine were dismissed and she was awarded damages.
I would bet Ms. Pieklo attended a government university because her critical thinking skills seem lacking. Since when is a report by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) considered unbiased information about clinic violence? Not only are NAF's materials biased, they are false.
Take for example the resource guide provided at the NAF training on FACE on August 25, 2010, in Portland, Ore. The training materials included NAF's guide, “Resource Guide: Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers.”
The guide materially misrepresents constitutionally protected speech and the constitutional rights of those who wish to express their views regarding abortion. Some examples of the misrepresentations in the resource guide are as follows:
Page 8 contains a brief history and description of the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers, comprised of members from the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the FBI, as well as other federal agencies. Listed among their duties is the “investigation and prosecution of incidents of abortion violence” and examination of “criminal anti-abortion activities.”
Yet, in the pages that follow, the resource guide labels legally permissible, constitutionally protected non-violent activity as threatening, violent and intimidating, and calls for the investigation and prosecution by the FBI and USDOJ of pro-life advocates who engage therein.
On page 20, under “Violence and Disruption Statistics” compiled by the NAF, picketing (an entirely lawful activity) is included as a “disruption” and accounts for 6,361 of the 8,180 reported incidents.
Page 15 includes a surreptitious insertion under the heading “History of Clinic Violence.” The listing names “the use of huge anti-abortion posters” and “graphic signs,” engagement in “campus campaigns,” and participation in “boycotts against abortion providers.”
The same discussion complains of “anti-abortion extremists” dissemination of information over the internet and their initiation of lawsuits for “alleged” freedom of speech violations. (It should be noted that many pro-life lawsuits have successfully proven freedom of speech violations.)
On page 67 the resource guide states that the USDOJ encourages enforcement of the FACE Act by gathering evidence on “leaflets or pamphlets” and “signs” distributed and carried by pro-life advocates. The discussion goes on to advise that the USDOJ “maintains a database of names, photos, license plates, etc. of anti-choice groups and individuals” and indicates they work “proactively” with local law enforcement. Also included is a watch-list on pages 39-41 of website names and addresses of numerous non-violent pro-life organizations.
Contrary to the impression given by the resource guide, none of the activities named are violent, nor are they unlawful. The attempt to label peaceful, legal speech activities as criminal activities is an old tactic, but fortunately a tactic which the First Amendment was created to prevent.
Ms. Pieklo would rather see the free speech and other civil rights of life advocates oppressed than allow their message to be communicated to women entering clinics, because those messages promote true, actual, informed choice. I guess that means that in actuality, Ms. Pieklo seems to be the anti-choice radical.
Attorney Dana Cody is president and executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. She has been championing the rights of women and the unborn for more than 20 years.
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