Planned Parenthood and the Feds Assault Antiabortion Speech
24 November, 1995
Mary Lou Forbes
Editorial Page Editor
Planned Parenthood and the Feds Assault Antiabortion Speech
Cheryl Richardson is one of the best of federal employees. And even though she had an abortion a decade and a half ago, she recovered well and has worked in Beltsville for the last eight years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Commensurate with her excellent work record in experimentation to reduce chemicals and herbicides in crop production, she has developed a proper loathing of chemicals (as well as knives and other tools) used in the commission of feticide. Cheryl Richardson, however, might soon be “furloughed.”
It was in February of 1991, eleven years after Miss Richardson had aborted her child, when she began pleading with women entering an abortion “clinic” to spare their children. She regularly stood outside the Glen Burnie, Maryland facility – the very site where she had delivered her child into the hands of an abortionist in 1980 – until it was closed in the summer of 1994. In the spring of 1992 she had spent a month in prison in Buffalo for blocking access to an abortion facility. And again a year later she spent a day for the same action in Philadelphia. But these outlandish deeds are not the cause for the possible dismissal of Miss Richardson from employment by the USDA.
Miss Richardson is scheduled to be jailed on 27 November by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia for “contempt.” She refuses “to talk” to a federal grand jury. The reason for the targeting of Miss Richardson for investigation by Attorney General Reno’s Task Force on Violence against Abortion Providers is her association with those who have publicly defended the recent forceful actions taken in defense of the innocent preborn. Miss Richardson became engaged to one Andrew Cabot, a man who had attended the trials of Michael Griffin and Paul Hill in support of these men charged with the “murders” of abortionists. And when approached for questioning by the FBI or any federal agent, Miss Richardson declined to enter into conversation. Furthermore, when subpoenaed twice before the grand Jury in Alexandria, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right each time.
In October at her second appearance Miss Richardson was involuntarily “immunized” by Judge Brinkema. (The court promises she will not be prosecuted for things she says, and thus claims to remove the ground for her Fifth Amendment right.) She has been threatened with imprisonment if she refuses to answer the questions of the prosecutors. Imprisonment lasts until either the grand jury investigation is completed or she relents – which will effectively result in her being fired from her job.
Miss Richardson is no scoundrel, sluggard, thief, or murderer. She is a law-abiding, good neighbor who lives with and looks after her mother and helps mother her fatherless nieces. She has come to abhor the one high crime she committed in her 33 years. And she finds it nauseating to even think about collaborating with government agents or judges who seek to prosecute fellow opponents of abortion. (The fact that Miss Richardson has no incriminating information is merely incidental to the more profound principles upon which she stands. She refuses to participate in what she believes to be an immoral inquisition.)
It is shameful enough that the federal government decriminalized abortion by the pen stroke of Harry Blackmun and a few fellow Supreme Court appointees and that it hunts down and prosecutes those who defend the innocent. But now the Clinton administration’s intolerance of abortion opponents has extended to the point that it pursues and harasses those who simply speak certain views.
The more common method of attack on anti-abortion speech is by way of litigation. A few weeks ago I was sued for 1.4 billion (dollars) by the government-funded Planned Parenthood Federation. I am accused along with about a dozen other “militant anti-abortion extremists” of violating various RICO and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance (FACE) laws. Laws purportedly designed to catch mafiosi (in the case of the RICO) and abusers of abortion facilities (in the case of FACE) are now being applied against the speech of antiabortionists. The suit complains that the application of the terms “murder” and “child-killer” by defendants to those who “provide” our nation with abortions (i.e. dead children) induces the use of “violence” against the “providers.”
Speech which condemns historic sins like murder and sodomy is not only hated by those who refer to it has “hate speech.” It is also assaulted with the weapon of the courts. Michael Ross sits in prison in Montana under a ten-year sentence for writing letters to abortionists and warning them of the impending divine judgment which falls upon the wicked. Roy McMillan of Jackson, Mississippi, is charged criminally by Reno’s Justice Department for violations of FACE. All alleged illegal acts are incidents of speech outside abortion facilities. And the testimonies which Reno’s attorneys base their case upon are those of abortionists’ employees!
Similarly, Reno’s Department has successfully prosecuted a civil suit against Regina Dinwiddie of Kansas City, Missouri with FACE violations citing three public incidents of unacceptable speech. She has declined to pay the fines totaling almost $5,000 to both the Justice Department and Planned Parenthood and now faces additional charges of criminal contempt for refusal to pay. The first was a public statement given national coverage in the court room where Paul Hill was tried. Mrs. Dinwiddie was charged with contempt for declaring aloud after the guilty verdict was announced: “This man is innocent, and his blood will be on your hands, the hands of the people of the state of Florida and on the jury. “ (A very sound statement, theologically speaking. But even if it is deemed inappropriate and disrespectful of court, what does the statement have to do with FACE? Mrs. Dinwiddie had already been visited with the swift Florida justice of three days in jail for disrupting a public meeting.)
The second occasion cited by the Reno Department was made by Mrs. Dinwiddie outside a PP facility following the accidental (divinely ordained?) death of a local judge. Judge Michael Coburn of Kansas City, who had harshly sentenced anti-abortion activists in the past, was inspecting an abandoned abortion facility on January 27, 1994 when he fell headlong down a 12-foot shaft to his death. Two days later, Mrs. Dinwiddie added something to her usual public denunciations at the local Planned Parenthood facility. She said, “God Almighty has struck down Judge Coburn, and God will strike down other judges who support abortion.” (Evidently, Janet Reno and her fellow Clintonite attorneys especially hate that kind of speech.)
The third offense was Mrs. Dinwiddie’s signature on a “Defensive Action” statement. Her signature was accompanied by those of a few dozen other activist leaders including this author. The brief statement was publicly circulated by Paul Hill after the shooting of Abortionist Gunn in Florida: “. . . whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.”
Understandably, this kind of speech enrages those who love abortion rights. Less explicable is the fact that it makes plenty of establishment prolifers uncomfortable. (To be associated with the “extremists” who utter such socially unacceptable statements about the child in the womb is a bit of an embarrassment. Professional prolifers rely upon a generous donor base, which might be diminished if the professional were to allow himself to be identified with those radical fringe elements in the movement; hence, the treatment of apologists for the use of force like runaway step children.)
That speech which calls abortion murder inherently invites interlocutors to a rational discussion of the propriety of the use of force to defend innocent victims of abortion. Why are they not worthy of the defensive action normally afforded any other victim threatened with murder? Obviously, however, this discussion is deemed too spicy for the appetite of the federals who have responded with repression. And it appears that the premier champion of speech, the ACLU, is less committed to truth and the free dissemination of ideas than to the triumph of the Secular City. But the fact that the establishment anti-abortion organizations are sitting on their hands in the face of this suppression of speech is baffling – except as explained above.
We don’t expect any sympathy or assistance from professional right-to-lifers. However, those citizens who still value free speech ought to be alarmed. When discussion and advocacy concerning the most divisive social and political issue of our time is being smothered by this abortion-loving administration and one of its beneficiary agencies (PP), any fair-minded civil libertarian ought to cry, “Tyranny!”