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Getting blood from turnips.

Chicago - American pro-lifers suffered a shocking setback April 21, 1998 when a federal civil jury found them guilty of "conspiring" to shut down abortion clinics under a racketeering law which was originally intended to fight organized crime.

Well-known pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler, along with Operation Rescue, Timothy Murphy and Andrew Scholberg of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, was ordered to pay $86,000 in damages. Under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, that amount will be tripled. And as well as the $25,000 in damages, the class-action ruling allows the possibility of more claims in the millions of dollars by abortuaries across the United States.

The suit was filed in 1986 by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and two abortion mills. They claimed the pro-lifers conspired to shut down the mills, using fear and violence. While the defendants denied encouraging violence, the jury of two men and four women determined there was a nationwide conspiracy involving 21 acts of extortion. This included threats of physical violence, most of which involved rescues, or blockades of clinic doorways.

NOW wants U.S. District Judge David Coar to issue an order barring further rescues, and the judge has scheduled a hearing on this matter for June 30.

Meanwhile, the defendants plan to appeal the decision. Chicago Cardinal Francis George has announced that his Archdiocese would consider joining the appeal as a friend of the court. "The decision in this case effectively equates freedom of speech with racketeering," he said in a statement.

As for the damage claims, Joseph Scheidler says the pro-lifers won't be paying abortion mills anything: "You can't get blood from a turnip - and we're turnips."
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Jun 1, 1998
Words:280
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